The Mayor & Council passed a resolution to name the new three-screen cinema and film museum to be constructed in Redevelopment Area 5 on Main Street "The Barrymore Theatre" during their Feb. 14 public meeting.
The name is in honor of the Barrymore family, who not only lived in Fort Lee, but made lasting contributions to the town through their volunteer work and successful efforts to raise money for a firehouse in the Coytesville section of town.
It was at the location of Area 5 that 18-year-old John Barrymore made his stage debut in 1900 in a production of A Man of the World to benefit the construction of a new firehouse for Co. 2 in Coytesville. The play was directed by his father, actor Maurice Barrymore, who was a volunteer captain in the Coytesville Fire Company (Co. 2) and spearheaded the fundraiser to help pay for the building of a firehouse on Washington Avenue. The building was used as a firehouse from 1901 through the late 1950's, and still stands today.
The Barrymore familly owned a house on the corner of Hammett and Myrtle Avenue. John's brother Lionel and sister Ethel came to Fort Lee to make movies--Lionel from 1908-1912 as a member of D.W. Griffith's Biograph Studio stock company of actors, and Ethel as a contract actress with Metro Studio on Lemoine Avenue.
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