New Movie Theater and Film Museum to be Named After the Barrymore Family

Mayor and Council recognize the contributions of the Barrymore family to Fort Lee and agree to name new theater and film museum to be built on Redevelopment Area 5 after them.

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. 


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The Thorn February 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM
When is Tommy Myers going to accept the fact that nobody cares about his Film Commission and his museum. Going to be another waste just like the Community Center.
Rona February 13, 2013 at 01:37 PM
I tend to agree it's getting tired.
Howard L. Pearl February 13, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Hopefully, Tom will get Drew Barrymore to anoint the new theater, then the film commission would get a little buzz. Fort Lee needs something positive right now.
Tom Meyers February 13, 2013 at 04:45 PM
This cinema and film museum will bring many people into Fort Lee and serve our community well as a place for people to come out at night and not only attend the cinema and museum events but also visit restaurants and businesses on Main Street. What town in America given a similar history of the Barrymore family right on Main Street wouldn't name the theatre after the most famous name in American acting history? And Fort Lee history as the first American film town is not tired nor is it ignored - see TCM's recent 7-part documentary on American film history Moguls & Movie Stars as they came to the Fort Lee Film Commission and used items and film from our archive to highlight Fort Lee's role as the first American film town. And we will reconnect with Drew Barrymore and do our best to get her in to help us dedicate this theatre when it is built and opened.
Shelley Rodriguez February 13, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Tom besides that fact that Fort Lee is the Birth Place of the film Industry, Fort Lee is a wonderful town to raise a family and work either in New jersey or New York City where if an actor is working on a Boradway, Ballot, Artist, etc.. and doesnot want to purchase a highend condo or moved to the Brooklyn Manhattan and save cost but till buy a home or condo less expensive then NYC. Even If they have to relocate to a NYC for period of time they can a company that is relocating a casting crew (example) can find reasonable rentals in some our beautiful Condomimuim in Fort Lee, Palisades Park, and the y surrounding area and having the musuem built with demonstration an appreciation for the art of actors and actress and its history. So I would think so that the Barrymore family would appreciate the museum honoring their family and it would give tourist and local artists places to take their friends and family when visiting Fort lee. Fort lee should add more culture artwork galleries into the area and like the where the Greek Festival is held that lot could be used a small cultural Art Center. Do not know if lot near the bridge is vacant or if its zoned for that kind of activity.
Tom Meyers February 13, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Shelley, Most of the lots near the GWB are taken for development - however we are working with the Mayor and COuncil to create a historic district in the neighborhood of the Fort Lee Museum, Monument Park and Palisade Avenue. This would not prevent development or offer protection to any older home in the area, what it would do is hopefully allow us to retrieve any artifacts in that neighborhood unearthed during development as we are told from Revolutionary War historians at the Fort Lee Historic Park that there are many artifacts from 1776 buried in this neighborhood as over 2,000 of Washington's soldiers lived in this neighborhood in 1776. We also hope to eventually create an element that wold foster art galleries and an artistic community as well - great ideas and thanks for sharing Shelley!
Quint February 13, 2013 at 06:30 PM
People are so quick to bash, the film commission has a great concert series and movies for free to everyone at the community center, who else does that? The community center is full of kids and adults all the time taking classes and playing, where is the waste of money??
Baba O'Riley February 13, 2013 at 07:07 PM
To all the naysayers: These are some of the things and places that Fort Lee needs. Do we remember what Edgewater used to be and what it has become? Tomk, keep up the good work!
Tracy February 14, 2013 at 12:48 AM
I look forward to learning more abot this town's history and legacy articles! Tom, please keep them up-- we appreciate it!
Fort Lee Truth February 14, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Tom, how large is the theatre going to be seat-wise? The reason I ask is because the theatre at Edgewater is pretty empty except for Friday nights, in comparison to the one by Garden State Plaza mall. I hope it is successful, but am wondering if there are enough folks out there that will come.
Tom Meyers February 14, 2013 at 02:58 AM
This cinema will be more of an art house / independent film / retrospective cinema much like the Film Forum or The Museum of the Moving Image in NYC - there are very few venues for cinema goers in North Jersey re this type of cinema. Thus we aren't in competition with big box cinemas. Also we will bring in special events and filmmakers, again much lke the Film Forum in NYC, to speak about their films prior to screenings. We also will incorporate a film walk of fame in the sidewalk area outside the cinema to recognize not only the cinema pioneers who started during Fort Lee's days as the first American film town but also current day filmmakers with NJ roots.
Art Elmers February 14, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Tom, Maybe it could be a satellite cinema for the Tribecca Film Festival. Good luck with getting it going.
William Mays February 14, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Are you going to show any mainstream movies at all? The theater in Tenafly is pretty nice, they show mainstream movies but it still has that small theater feeling.
Tom Meyers February 14, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Yes that as well some mainstream and art house and retro a good mix.
Tom Meyers February 15, 2013 at 07:37 AM
The Fort Lee Mayor and Council passed a resolution at their Thursday Feb. 14 public meeting naming the cinema / museum to be but on Main Street "The Barrymore Theatre"!
Jack Barrymore February 15, 2013 at 05:04 PM
@ the Thorn, I think your out numbered here pal, so go take your miserable atittude and apply to another thread where other miserable people post.
Jack Barrymore February 15, 2013 at 05:05 PM
@Rona, so is your husband.
Fort Lee Truth February 15, 2013 at 09:39 PM
@The Thorn, How is the Community Center a waste? Seems like it's being used to it's fullest.
JohnJay February 16, 2013 at 08:40 AM
close your eyes to the going on's in Fort Lee , or just go back to ny !!
JohnJay February 16, 2013 at 08:58 AM
Why is it that all you hear in the schools today is of Bullying when 7 out of 10 everyone on this page is that of being a bully ? Except not in school, its considered a crime ? Here its big baby's that don't don't how to voice there words out any other way !! Except hiding through the internet !
Sidney Burger April 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Looking forward to it
FortLeeboy May 02, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Is this the lot where the old Lee Theatre was?
JohnJay May 08, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Yes it is , Rite across from the plaza Dinner// prazza dina../ Where Ft. Lee Bagel, used to stand along with Fort Lee Deli, For the Best Bread Pudding !!!


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