The Garden Theater at 113-12 Jamaica Ave. in Richmond Hill faced foreclosure in 1937. First owned and operated by the Mondrith Theater Corp., it was built in 1919, according to the title-holding bank, though some reports say 1914.
It had been one of three thriving theaters in the area, along with the RKO Keith’s a quarter mile east on Hillside Avenue and the Loews Willard a half mile west in Woodhaven. Next door to the Garden was Priscilla’s Candy Store and Sweet Shop, owned by James Mangas, who also was a resident of Richmond Hill.
The mortgage report said the building made a net income of $12,400 after an operating cost of $1,600. “This is a heavily populated neighborhood of one and two family homes, averages favorably, getting better and a good class American People,” said a note attached to this photo.
During the 1940s there was another Garden Theater at 136-16 Farmers Blvd. in St. Albans. To end the confusion the Richmond Hill Theater changed its name to the New Garden Theater in 1950.
With the new age of television the theater limped along until it closed its doors forever at the end of 1953. The building remained vacant during 1954 and reopened in 1955 as The Prudential Vending Corp. That was an old coin-operated vending machine company that previously operated out of a small building at 101st Avenue and 113th Street in South Richmond Hill.
By the 1970s the vending company had left the area and the building appeared to be used only for storage. Bricked up for many years, it was finally demolished in the mid-1980s and replaced with a much-needed parking lot for the congested area.
Many old theater buffs today say it should have been preserved and given a new use, but its fate is proof again that most structures are transient in our always-changing New York City.