Created By: Upper Madison Improvement Group
“One of the finest residential theatres in New York State”: That's what a trade magazine wrote about the Madison not long after its grand opening. It was one of the first theaters in the nation that was designed and built to show that marvelous new sensation of the 1920s – talking pictures.
Designed by Thomas Lamb, a theatre architect also responsible for Proctor's in Schenectady, the Madison cost the Stanley Mark Strand Corporation $250,000 to build in 1929. When it opened, it was majestic: The lobby featured an Art Deco chandelier and the drapery-hung hall held 1,400 upholstered seats.
For most of the twentieth century the Madison – and its Saturday double feature – was one of the landmarks of a Pine Hills childhood. But by the 1990s the small cinema was struggling. Owners tried to keep it alive by carving it into five, then seven, screening rooms. But dogged by financial troubles, it closed its doors in 2003. The next year, CVS proposed tearing down the Madison to build a larger drugstore with a drive-through window. Neighbors, preservationists and others organized successfully to fight the project and promote the theatre to potential buyers. It was purchased by an Amsterdam businessman in 2005, and passed to its current owners – the team behind Tierra Coffee Roasters – in 2013. Their renovations have included cutting the number of screens, restoring retail space and adding a live performance venue.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Pine Hills