|The Sunshine Theater c.1930|
Image Courtesy the NY Public Library
Located at East Houston and Forsyth Streets, Sunshine Cinema has been a much-loved venue for independent and foreign films for ten years. What's surprising is that the building itself has actually been a neighborhood gathering place since before the advent of cinema.
Originally built as a Dutch Reformed church in the 19th century, the building at 143 East Houston Street has had many lives. In 1908 it began a career in show biz when it was transformed into the Houston Hippodrome, a neighborhood vaudeville house featuring three-act plays, costume operettas and variety acts for local Yiddish-speaking audiences. Patrons purchased knishes from Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery down the block to snack on during a performance.
|Belle Baker c.1916|
Time marched on and vaudeville's heyday ended. For nearly half a century, the auditorium was used as warehouse space for Semel Goldman Hardware. For a time in the mid-1990s, it was rented out for sporadic independent rock concerts, before Landmark Theatres bought and renovated the building. On December 21, 2001, Landmark opened its modern, five-screen art house behind the Sunshine's classic façade.
|Sunshine Cinema today|