Engeman Theater – Where Broadway Meets Main Street

Filed under: Around Town,Arts & Entertainment,Huntingtonian Junior,News,Northport |

Engeman Theater is one of the latest sponsors of The Huntingtonian Newspaper and we are so proud to have them on board. They are offering discount tickets to Huntingtonian readers.  Simple enter the code TONIAN when ordering tickets online.

Engeman - Green Room Piano Bar and LoungeEngeman theater which is located at 250 Main Street in Northport, is one of the things that makes Huntington a great place to live.  If you have not had the opportunity to see a show there, we highly recommend that you do.  What a treat to have a Broadway style show a short drive away, where you can easily park in the village or take advantage of the valet parking they offer.

Arrive a few minutes early and you can enjoy a drink at the elegant bar.  The Green Room piano bar and lounge is located in the lobby and is open one hour before the show for ticket holders and after the show to the general public.  Craft Beers, select wines, cocktails and soft drinks are available for purchase. Beverages are permitted in the theater, so you can sip on a cocktail while enjoying the show.  In seat service is available before the performance and during intermission.

The village of Northport or nearby village of Huntington offer ample dining options that can be taken advantage of before or after the show.

The theater also offers children’s shows, which is a great and affordable way to introduce your kids to the experience of a live performance.

Engeman TheaterFor more information and full show schedule, visit their website by clicking here.

History of the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport

Northport’s first movie house was built in 1912 at 256 Main Street, but movies were only one of its uses: It’s grand opening included a vaudeville show, and over the years the space was used for high school commencement ceremonies, political rallies, children’s recitals and even basketball games, when space in the building was leased by the school system for use as a gymnasium. The early movies were silent films, accompanied by a pianist. Admission to evening shows was 50 cents for adults, 25 cents for children. The Engeman Theater 2Northport trolley added an evening trip in 1913, so that East Northport residents could get home after the movies. Talkies didn’t come to Northport until about 1930, when a local businessman leased the theater and installed new projectors.

But two years later, on April 19, 1932, the theater caught fire, after a blaze started in the adjoining Chevrolet dealership. The responding fire departments found too little water pressure in the hydrants to fight the fire, and water had to be hauled up from the harbor by the truckload. To no avail – the building was a complete loss. The following August, the village board voted major improvements in the water system.

The first plan for replacing the theater was to rebuild on the same site, but theater builder William McNeil began constructing one on the adjoining property even as the old site was being cleared for a new structure.  After much to and fro, Prudential Playhouses Inc. settled on the McNeil site, at 248-250 Main Street, that is occupied by the present theater building.

The new Northport Theater, with 754 seats, was opened with speeches and great ceremony on Nov. 23, 1932. Much was made of the fact that it was of fireproof construction, with major components of its electrical system isolated in a fireproof room in the basement. Uniformed ushers were recruited from Northport high school, to be selected by the superintendent of schools. The theater would offer “the latest and most popular pictures on the cinema screen today,” a local paper noted. The initial attraction was “Sherlock Holmes,” starring Clive Brook and Ernest Torrence, which had opened in New York City only a week earlier.

The building erected on site of the old theater was used for a lunch room under various ownerships, including use by the Northport U.S.O. during World War II. In the 1970s it was converted into two stores.

In 1950 the Northport Theater, still operated by Associated Prudential Theaters, underwent major alterations: Most noticeably the stainless steel marquee was added. The lobby was remodeled, new seats installed, stage curtains and wall coverings replaced and a modern air-conditioning system installed. The cost of renovations was put at $100,000 — about as much as construction of the building had cost 18 years earlier.

As film industry economics and consumer tastes changed to favor more central theater locations, control of the Northport Theater eventually shifted to United Artists Eastern Theatres, which for years offered second-run movies at cut-rate prices. At 99 cents, later raised to $1.25, movie-going in Northport in the early 1980s was a bargain. But UA finally closed the theater in 1996, and a new owner’s plans to renovate the building for a reopening in 1997 were frustrated when the interior was vandalized. The Northport Theater reopened in 1999, but failed to make adequate commercial headway.

In 2005, the theater was purchased by Dennis Tannenbaum, a resident and local businessman, who in turn sold it to long time Huntington resident and entrepreneur Kevin O’Neill and his wife, Patti, on June 30, 2006. In tribute to Patti’s brother, Chief Warrant Officer Four John William Engeman, who was killed in Iraq on May 14, 2006, the O’Neill’s decided to rename the theater the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport.

About CW4 John W. Engeman – July 8, 1960 – May 14, 2006

John EngemanJohn William Engeman, brother and brother-in-law to current theater owners Patti and Kevin O’Neill, was born to Elizabeth and Joseph Engeman on July 8, 1960. He grew up with his one brother and five sisters in East Northport, New York. In August of 1978 John entered the Army as an enlisted mechanic. He was selected as a Warrant Officer (Ordinance/Maintenance) in 1988. He was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer Four on March 1, 2002. John met and married his wife, Donna, while the two were stationed in Würzburg, Germany. They have a son and daughter-in-law, First Lieutenant Patrick and Mary Kirk Engeman and a daughter, Nicole Engeman.

John served our nation on active duty for over twenty-eight years.  He deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm, Hurricane Andrew relief, Kosovo/Bosnia Peacekeeping, an assignment to Nigeria, and to Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He served multiple tours in Germany and Korea, and at Fort Knox, Fort Drum and most recently, West Virginia.  At the time of his death, John was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 312th Training Support Battalion, 4th Brigade, 78th Division, based at Fort Bragg, and was serving on the Military Transition Team assisting the Iraqi people in establishing their own security forces.  The Iraqis have honored John by placing his biography and picture in the Iraqi Hall of Martyrs.  The Hall of Martyrs honors all of the Iraqis who have died fighting for a free and democratic Iraq.

Among his many awards are the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), Bronze Star Medal, Legion of Merit Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, War on Terrorism Medal.  He has been awarded the Purple Heart due to his death as a result of hostile enemy action in Iraq.

John enjoyed the theater, both onstage and backstage. While stationed in Europe he participated in the Army’s community theater, playing the traveling salesman in “Music Man”, one of the bottle dancers in “Fiddler on the Roof” and he won an Army theater award for his role in a one-act play called “The Whole Shebang.”


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