1085 Flatbush Ave
R. Thomas Short

Built by Abraham H. Schwartz, The Rialto was one of the first “luxury” theatres built exclusively for showcasing motion pictures. Musical selections were played before and after each feature, and an orchestra provided accompaniment to silent films. Unlike other venues at the time, there was not a full setup for vaudeville or stage productions.

The theater’s success prompted Schwartz to establish Century Circuit Inc., a chain of movie theaters in Brooklyn that by 1928 operated 25 locations.

The building’s façade maintains the ornamental brickwork and carved theatrical masks. The original iron and glass marquee and signage were replaced by the late 1930s, and removed in 2019. The lobby was reported to have marble floors, mirrors, and plasterwork adorning the ceiling. The auditorium had a seating capacity of over 1,500 people, retaining many of the wall moldings, pilasters, and the arabesque ornaments that flank the wall sconces. The theater closed in 1976, after which it was converted into a church. In 2021, part of the building was put up for rent by the current owner.