As part of the developer's agreement for the western parcel of Redevelopment Area 5, the Fort Lee Mayor & Council have secured the construction of a 13,000 square foot movie theatre and a film museum to commemorate the role of Fort Lee as the first American film town.
In recognition of their many contributions to the community of Fort Lee, the Mayor and Council agreed to name the theater and museum after the Barrymore family.
According to Tom Meyers, Executive Director of the Fort Lee Film Commission, the western parcel of Redevelopment Area 5 once housed Buckheister's Hotel, where an 18-year-old John Barrymore made his stage debut in a fundraiser for Fire Company 2.
The fundraiser, organized by his father Maurice--a member of Fire Company 2, a Broadway thespian and a resident of Hammett Avenue--raised funds for the building of a firehouse on Washington Avenue. This firehouse was used by Company 2 through the 1950's; it still stands today.
Three years ago, the Fort Lee Film Commission successfully petitioned the Mayor & Council to commemoratively name the intersection of Main street and Central Road “John Barrymore Way.”
Each Feb. 15 -- Barrymore’s birthday -- the Fort Lee Film Commission and members of the Fort Lee arts community lay a wreath at "John Barrymore Way." This year, the ceremony will take place Friday, Feb. 15 at 6pm.
The wreath laying ceremony will be immediately followed by a fundraiser at In Napoli Restaurant on Main Street. All the proceeds of this fundraiser go towards programs for the Fort Lee High School Drama Department and the student actors.