Beacon Theatre


by Chris Bain

Ahhhh, the Beacon Theater!  Newcomers to present day Port Washington might not even know the movie theater's original name, but the rest of us can't forget “The Beacon".  The single, huge theater originally had stage shows, a large pipe organ, and boasted their "Gala Stage Attraction".  Built in 1926, the movies that would have been shown were silent, with "Talkies" not taking hold until about 1930.  The opening drew 600 people to the formal opening celebration, with an admission of 25 cents, quite a bit for those days.


If you have memories of going to The Beacon when you were young, email them to us, and we'll share them on this page.  Was it the popcorn?  Was it the balconey?  Who remembers what storefronts were on either side of the theater?  Wasn't there a fur shop on the left side (Barbatsuli & Sedarius?).  Do tell…

MEMORIES OF THE BEACON THEATER:

Thanks to the Port Washington Public Library for this interior photograph of The Beacon:

"How wonderful to see the old Beacon Theatre, especially with those vintage cars out on the street. As a kid in town in the 60's, I remember noticing on the bare bricks of the west side of the theatre (facing the gas station and the funeral home) very faint paint from about 1930, ornately spelling out "WARNER BROS. VITAPHONE--ALL TALKING, ALL SINGING," etc. For at least a decade I was able to point it out to any companion walking with me past Scheur Monuments and Knowles. Could almost hear Al Jolson singing "Mammy." Faded completely away now. In those days there was a large candy store next door to the theatre. Inside the Beacon, red velvet seats is what I remember, and Good n'Plenties"

David Bain, Orwell, Vermont


I still refer to it as The Beacon! The shop on the right was a "sweet shop," My parents shared many fond memories of their time spent there during their courtship in the 40's and the delicious shakes they enjoyed there. It was the after school and Saturday night hangout spot. Much like Greenfield's was for those of us in high school during the 60's.

Betsy Silverstein


During the 1970s a friend whose name was Ken Ladner, and I began working on the Beacon's pipe organ, a three manual instrument manufactured by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut.  We discovered that the organ was unplayable, and we got permission of the owner (GG Theatres) to try to restore it to playing condition. The main problem was water damage in the organ chambers, which flanked the stage. Cleaning the roof drains stopped the leak, and we began repairing the damaged areas.  Eventually, we got the organ playing and Ken began playing for Saturday night intermissions.  He was soon joined by my late wife Madeline who shared duties with him as House Organists.  Eventually the owner decided to convert the theatre into a multiplex and most of the organ ended up in a dumpster.  A few percussion instruments were salvaged and incorporated into a similar organ from the Queens Village Theatre which we removed and reinstalled at Chaminade High School in Mineola.  As far as I know, the console is still in the original orchestra pit behind the screen of Theatre No. 1, and the blower is still in the basement.

Bob Atkins


At the Beacon Theater was the Beacon Sweet Shop with great home-made ice cream. Next to it was the Mason Photo Studio. Further up on the left of the theater entrance at one time John Marino had his jewelry store.

Everitt J. Hehn


How lucky we were to grow up in a town that boasted a movie theater in the center of Main Street. Like David, I remember the candy store attached to the Beacon selling boxes of "rock candy" with the strings still in it. My favorite "in house" treat was the ice cream bon bons!! I remember when "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" was playing there and Betty Davis came to talk on the stage. Also remember seeing "The Fly" and not being able to sleep for weeks after. That was the place to be every Saturday afternoon.

Marla Freeman


I just love these monthly photos and narratives. Thanks for taking the time to do it. Really terrific idea!  I remember the Beacon Luncheonette very well. They used to make their own chocolate that we would buy before going into the movie. Also remember their rock candy. Never ate there, but I remember the soda fountain that served standard diner fare.

Debbie Greco


Oh my, oh my soooo many memories. The candy store next door---always filled right before the movie was to start. My high school boyfriend, Jerry Conway, was one of the ushers in the Beacon. At 6'6" tall he towered over the "kids". We won't go into "the balcony: and it's special memories.  Yes, we saw the Saturday serials and two movies---on going. Lastly I remember my sister ,Ruth, won a pair of roller skates  the kind with a key to tighten the skates on to your shoes..  She was ecstatic--I was jealous.   Yes, it was a big theatre and you could always meet  friends there.

Averil Olsen MacKenzie


There was a candy store to the right of the Beacon Theatre and I remember going there to get a chocolate lollipop that was a chunk of chocolate on a stick.  And of course I remember the theatre when it was a single movie theatre with a balcony!

Terry Bain


I remember very well the old Beacon Theater and "Petes' Candy Store" next door.  It was during the 1940's that I remember so well.  I remember Vinnie Nuzzolese and his brother Frank playing the accordion on the stage and having paddleball contests.  Also if you were interested in a specific boy and he in you, you'd make plans to meet " 6 rows down and 5 seats in " in the front section".  The balcony was for "serious dating". We had dancing, Fridays after school in the the basement of the "Main Street School" our Jr.High School, and often a special boy would ask you to go up to Pete's with him for ice cream. Wow! what good memories.  

Helen Morgan Vogt - a clamdigger at heart (even here Colorado)


Great memories of the Beacon Theatre.  The Sweet Shop was owned and operated by the parents of Dennis Collorius (spelling ?)  who graduated from P.D. Schreiber class of 1971.

Paul Plominski 



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