With almost 100 years of history behind it, The Space at Westbury has been through a lot of tough times, but the venue continues providing Long Island with high-quality entertainment.
The beautiful Tudor-style building was constructed in 1927 as a live music venue, until it was later converted to the Westbury Movie Theater. As movies became more popular and multiplex theaters were built, however, the single screen Westbury Theater started losing business and eventually had to close.
The building sat unused with a massive hole in the roof for about 15 years, according to Cyrus Hakakian, executive director of The Space at Westbury and one of the people responsible for saving the theater from demolition.
“Once I walked into [the building], I just fell in love with it,” he said. “It has so much history; it was so grand. I didn’t have the heart to tear it down.”
Hakakian and his partners revamped the building, adding a new façade along with state-of-the-art lighting and sound.
“It’s something that came back to life as far as art goes,” he said. “Rather than demolishing it and building something new, we basically did our best to bring it back to life, and I think it’s doing a tremendous, tremendous service to the community.”
While reviving the theater was the main goal, Hakakian still thought it was important to retain the history of the building. He described the VIP room called The Lounge, where guests can have access to special parties or meet and greets with the performers, as an example of this.
“It’s actually decorated from salvaged pieces from the stage,” he said. “Believe it or not, we salvaged a lot of the film reels, a lot of the cameras and a lot of the pulleys. And we basically put it together, and it came out gorgeous.”
After surviving more than 70 years of ups and downs as a movie theater, the venue also had to endure the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Before pandemic we had a very nice lineup,” Hakakian said. “But during the pandemic, you know, we were forced to close first and open last.”
He made sure, however, to add that things are starting to look up again and people are starting to come out in the same numbers as before the pandemic.
Despite all these challenges, The Space at Westbury continues to provide a large variety of entertainment events to please any potential audience member.
“We bring a gamut of different acts,” Hakakian said. “So [whether that is] rock ‘n’ roll, blues or indies or country, basically we try to touch every genre.”
The Space can also host private and corporate events, such as weddings, conventions or Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
After nearly 100 years, several different owners and extensive building renovations, one thing that hasn’t changed is the role that the Westbury Theater plays in the local community.
“We just want to thank our community and audiences and customers,” Hakakian said. “They were patient with us and they helped us get back on the horse. You know, we really count on their support.”
More information about The Space at Westbury and the upcoming shows can be found online at: https://www.thespaceatwestbury.com/