From the Office of the Mayor of Bronxville
By Mayor Mary Marvin
I am so gratified to report that our venerable movie theater reopened recently to a capacity crowd for a launch party to introduce the Pelham Picture House Regional Film Center. This incredible nonprofit neighbor stepped up to incorporate our theater into their Picture House family.
By way of introduction, the Pelham Picture House Regional Film Center started as the Pelham Picture House Preservation Inc. It was formed in Pelham to save their 1920s single screen 335 seat theatre that was operating well into the 2000s showing first run movies until the 18-Plex theater opened in New Rochelle in 1999, greatly affecting the profitability of their home town theater. The preservation coalition was formed and purchased the building from the owner, taking title in 2004 for $1.15 million.
It was then converted into a regional nonprofit film and educational center reconfigured to accommodate two smaller viewing spaces, classrooms, multipurpose space and a studio/editing room. Currently, besides showing art house films, the group also stages historical events, workshops, photographic exhibits, children’s programs and documentaries. One only has to go to the Picture House website www.thepicturehouse.org to see that there are weekly runs of popular, independent, art house and classic films in addition to curated series, retrospectives and sneak previews. In addition, they also attract industry leaders including stars, producers, directors and designers to give insider views on the entire industry. They truly offer programming for every age group in the Pelham area including a very popular Seniors’ afternoon.
Their mission could not be more perfectly aligned with what so many of you hoped for when you reached out to me in the dozens with your offer to save our community theater.
The Picture House’s very successful goal in Pelham of creating a shared community experience for diverse audiences through film, educational program and unique cultural offerings is exactly what we had envisioned in Bronxville. We have truly found the perfect partner with the same goals – small town preservation so as to create an oasis of culture, conversation and arts education as our theater history has been remarkably similar.
By way of background, the Bronxville theater opened in what was called the Brick Row on Kraft Avenue in September 1926 with live shows as well as music. Our theater started as a single screen with seating for up to 1100 people with visitors from all over Westchester and the Bronx. In the mid 80s it was taken over by United Artists Partners who converted it into the triplex that we have today. Our Bowtie Cinemas partner was one of the industries most caught in the Covid shutdown and thus began our search to find a partner to preserve and protect our iconic institution.
There is not a person who grew up in the Village or who has lived in the area for a good stretch of time who does not talk about having a birthday party, a first date, a special memory, (in some cases smoking in the balcony!!), as the Village theater was part of the fabric of this small town life. Not only are the memories strong but having a theater in such a small community is an incredibly attractive, synergistic business as folks who come to the theater often walk around, stop and shop or peer in store windows only to return later, have a coffee, an ice cream, meet for a pre- or post meal drink, thus frequenting our business community on many levels. It truly is a beacon.
To emulate the success of our counterpart in Pelham, now is the time for villagers to join the Picture House family of supporters.
Membership at the Picture House would offer two locations, five screens and the best movies 364 days a year. Not only would it perpetuate a thriving cultural opportunity for those of us who join, your membership would enable free programming to underserved audiences. For just $70, (and only $50 for teachers, seniors 65+ and youth between the ages of 13 and 25), this introductory level membership offers discounts on tickets, free members only events, a ten percent discount on education programs, concession and Picture House merchandise and half price Tuesdays – and what brings a smile to my face is free popcorn at every showing as I have read the popcorn has been rated as the best theater popcorn by Westchester Magazine! Membership continues at $100 for a dual membership, $160 for a family membership and then Leadership Circle opportunities from $500 on up, all of these categories offering extraordinarily generous discounts and benefits. To join, and read about the various opportunities logon to thepicturehouse.org and/or membership at thepicturehouse.org or by sending a check to The Picture House Bronxville, 84 Kraft Ave, Bronxville, NY 10708. The first screening was last Friday the 11th at 5pm so you’ve already missed a couple of shows!
On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I sent thanks to The Picture House team and all of our villagers who have already stepped up with incredible support for our Picture House partners. I never thought I’d be able to say this again during the depths of Covid but, “See you at the movies in Bronxville!!”