Photo by N. Bower
By Mary Marvin, Mayor of Bronxville
Nov. 1, 2023: We are fast approaching the third anniversary of our wonderful theater’s quite frankly “rescue “by the Pelham Picture House Regional Film Center, our incredible nonprofit neighbors, who stepped up to incorporate our theater into their Picture House family.
By way of background and pleased to share their incredible preservationist history, the Pelham Picture House Regional Film Center started as the Pelham Picture House Preservation Inc.
It was formed to save their 1920’s single screen, 335 seat theater that was operating well into the 2000s and showing first run movies until the 18 Plex theater opened in New Rochelle in 1999, greatly affecting the profitability of their hometown theater.
The residents rallied and a preservation coalition was formed with generous donations from all over the community and the group purchased the building, taking title in 2004 for $1.15 million.
This amazing philanthropic effort was very in keeping with Pelham and mirrors the goals of our Village as we look to preserve things that are near and dear to us personally and in the character of our 125-year-old Village.
After purchase in Pelham, the building was then converted into a regional film, cultural and educational center and was even reconfigured to accommodate classrooms, studio editing rooms and multipurpose space.
Their sustaining mission and what we all embraced here is that of an independent art house with program offerings for every age group, which is perfectly aligned with the goals of our Village - to have a shared community experience for diversity in conversation through film, educational programs, movies, and unique cultural offerings. We have the perfect partner in fellow smalltown preservationists who desire to create an oasis of culture, community and arts education.
Even our theater structures have remarkably similar histories. The Bronxville Theater opened on 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, attracting visitors from all over Westchester and the Bronx. In the mid-1980s, it was taken over by United Artists Partners who converted it into the triplex that we know today.
The most recent owner, Bowtie Cinema, was in an industry most affected by the coronavirus shut down and as a result, began to search for a partner to preserve and protect our iconic institution as there is not a person in the Village who has lived here for a good stretch of time who does not reminisce about having a birthday party, a first date, a special memory, as the Village theater has always been a part of the fabric of our small-town life.
Not only are the memories strong, but having a theater in such a small community is an incredibly attractive synergistic business. Folks who come to the theater often walk around either pre or post theater, do a little shopping, peer in store windows, only to return later to purchase; buy a coffee, an ice cream or meet for meals or drinks. A theater truly serves as an anchor and a beacon. However, success of the theater as an independent arts center in 2023 does not come easy and not without sustained support.
We must emulate our neighbors in Pelham and keep supporting and rejoining the theater or through donations as we do all other treasured charities in the Village.
Theatre membership offers two locations, five screens and first run movies 364 days a year, all while perpetuating a thriving cultural opportunity as your membership also enables free programming to underserved audiences.
For just $70 and only $50 for teachers, senior citizens and youth between the ages of 13 and 25, this introductory level offers discounts on tickets, free members only events, 10% discount on educational programs and concession items as well as half price Tuesdays and free popcorn rated best theatre popcorn by Westchester Magazine.
As membership categories continue for dual and family subscriptions, the benefits only increase. In fact, movie goers 65 and over can come to the movies for free in Bronxville and Pelham every Tuesday at 2:30 from September to June.
Our theater needs your sustained support similar to our other 501(C)3 organizations in the Village if it’s going to thrive. It is an institution so worth supporting as the last remaining theater in White Plains just announced that they are closing, raising the number of shuttered theaters in the past couple of years to three.
The Bronxville movie theater is creeping up on its 100-year-old birthday but with that joyous celebration comes constantly needed updating. The HVAC system failed this summer as well as the popcorn machine which resulted in almost $10,000 of needed repairs for just the basic of fixtures, and this does not include the refurbishment of carpet and painting and just making the venue a more attractive place to spend an afternoon or evening.
The theater has seen an increase in attendance as people realized that it has reopened to full capacity but the numbers are still down over 58% from pre-pandemic levels.
Added to the equation, the movie business is a tough one controlled by the movie studios. As example for Barbie – one of the most successful movies of all time - the theater had to give back 65% of the gross directly to the studio and this is a typical percentage for most movies and not a one off for a hit show.
I would argue we have already built a strong community ethos out of a shared love of sports, be it soccer, football, field hockey, lacrosse, track, etc. and it’s time to build a community culture around the shared love of art.
To help out and continue to have our theater a mainstay, an icon and a unique institution that helps to define our very special Village, please consider joining the theater programs at any level or just making a donation to say you value having a theater in Bronxville.
Our goal is to be able to have the next generation of residents, new visitors and our children able to say, “See you at the movies”.
The Bronxville Public Library traces its origins back to 1875, when it was a small lending library housed in a room attached to the “Bronxville Model School.” The Library was officially chartered in 1906 and moved into the Village Hall Building. The needs of the library grew with the town and, in 1942, a new standalone building was erected, which is where the Library is today. Over the years, the Library was renovated and expanded to meet the needs of the community.
The Library has wonderful resources for adults and children and offers a comfortable and relaxing environment. The Library also houses a fine art collection, consisting principally of Bronxville painters and sculptors.
The Library offers special events, art exhibitions, and programs for adults, young adults and children. All events are open to the public, unless otherwise indicated.
The Bronxville Public Library
201 Pondfield Road (Midland Avenue & Pondfield Road)
Concordia Conservatory, a preeminent center for music education in Westchester County, is a welcoming community where children and adults find lifelong inspiration and joy through learning, performing, listening to, and participating with others in music. Concordia Conservatory, a community outreach division of Concordia College, offers top quality music programs for early childhood, youth, adults and seniors. The Conservatory's vision is to enrich the lives of the people in our community through music.
Executive Director: Kathleen Suss
Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art
171 White Plains Rd
99B Pondfield Road
Bronxville, New York 10708
117 Pondfield Road
Bronxville, New York 10708