Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Newark's (barely) surviving Houdini theaters

I've long known that Houdini began 1925 with a week's engagement in Newark, New Jersey. What I didn't know was the theater. Thanks to an advert in the January 2, 1925 Jewish Chronicle, I now know it was Proctor's Palace located at 116 Market Street.

Whenever I learn of a new Houdini theater, I always jump over to the excellent Cinema Treasures website for more information and to see if the theater still stands. Turns out, the theater is still there, although it has been largely derelict since 1968.

An excellent overview of theater can be found in the blog The Forgotten Past of New Jersey. Proctor's was a rare double-decker theater, meaning it had two theaters stacked on top of each other. I've never heard of such a thing. The post also notes that the building was sold in 2016 with plans to demolish it. But a check of Google Maps shows the building still standing, seemingly untouched today. 

This isn't the only surviving Houdini theater in Newark. In November 1925, Houdini brought his "3 Show in One" to the Shubert Theater on Branford Place. Below is an ad for the engagement. I like the tagline: "WHY GO TO NEW YORK?... ALL THE GOOD SHOWS COME HERE!"

The Shubert later became the Adams Theatre and remained active into the 1980s. Like Proctors, the building survives today and is just waiting for its comeback.



  1. Great stuff! The last photo is painful to see.

    1. It is. But it's better to see this than a parking lot.

    2. That dilapidated theater is like a mangled patient on life support in a hospital. Restoring it will cost a lot of money. Commercial property developers most likely don't see the restoration as a good investment.

    3. And they are probably correct. And that's why it's sitting there in this condition. But if the area improves, then the developers might move in. But they would likely level it and build some ghastly building. I'll take historic ruins any day. That is still a Houdini stage we can step onto. Carefully. :)