19. The Wesley Lake Section, Part 10
The Mayfair Theater, Part 1
Image 1.19.1. The Mayfair Theater.
"Brilliant and Glorious." These words well describe the Mayfair, the flagship theater of the Walter Reade chain. Opening in 1927, it was brilliant in design and placement. It was glorious in the totality of its effects. But glory does not fully arrive while something is in life. So it is that the Mayfair Theater, in our minds, is more glorious than ever.
Let us look at its placement.
We leave the Palace Amusements by way a south (Wesley Lake) exit, near the Bumber Cars. Let's stroll down the block a short distance past the Mayfair Theater and look back. It's important to see where we are situated. Here we are...
Image 2.19.1. Looking east from the Heck Street bridge.
We stand at the Heck Street footbridge, looking east (this is one of Wesley Lake's two little bridges). There's the Mayfair on our left. We can see a small part of the Palace Amusements' Ferris Wheel down the block. In the distance are the Casino and the Heating Plant. Across the Lake, of course, is the village of Ocean Grove. Let's spin around and look west at the rest of Wesley lake.
Image 3.19.1. Looking west from the Heck Street Bridge.
You can see second footbridge (on Emory Street) in the distance (it's down the block from Steinbachs, our department store). Let's step back a few yards and look at the bridge that we a are standing on.
Image 4.19.1. The Heck Street bridge again, looking across Wesley Lake to Ocean Grove. The tower at left belongs to the great Ocean Grove Auditorium.
Now the reason I digress is to show what you were not thinking about when you watched a movie at the Mayfair Theater. Keep in mind (so to speak) the Palace, the Casino, the Boardwalk, the Paramount Theater and Convention Hall. Remember the Monte Carlo Pool? There is so much more that you would not think about. But it was all present in a very significant way.
Following the banks of the lake, we walk back to the theater and then swim to the middle of the lake. (Hey, it's only water). Here we get a nicely framed view (okay, so it's night again all of a sudden; we're slow swimmers):
Image 5.19.1.The Mayfair was on the corner of Lake Avenue and Saint James Place. (Note: The building right next door is the an older version of the Saint James Theater. We'll see the St. James later.)
To describe the Mayfair, I will take some lines from an article I wrote for The Asbury Park Press (December 18, 1995):
The exterior of the building was of hand-sculpted Spanish stucco, a feature elaborately evident in window ornamentation and fanciful arches. Behind a succession of baroque columns, a tall balconade overlooked Wesley Lake; and an ornate campanile 172 feet high (whose chimes were controlled by a forty-thousand-dollar organ) made a massive but elegant crown of the theater's front corner.
The Mayfair was full of windows and openings. The balconade - also properly called a loggia - was a source of fascination for me. I had never been up there; and I always wondered where it led to. The rosette window on the east side, as well as the highly sculpted ones above the entrance, suggested the presence of dark and mysterious worlds somewhere within.
Now let's go inside the Mayfair. But before we do, look down at the sidewalk around the building. See? It sparkles.