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United Palace Theater

This is the spectacular United Palace Cathedral (aka Palace Theater), occupying a full city block at 4140 Broadway at 175th Street in Washington Heights. The 7-story structure was built in 1930 by Loews and “designed by Thomas W. Lamb in Byzantine-Romanesque-Indo-Hindu-Sino-Moorish-Persian-Eclectic-Rococo-Deco style,” as David W. Dunlap wrote in “On Broadway: A Journey Uptown Over Time” (Rizzoli International Publications, 1990). This place was one of Loews‘s five Wonder Theaters in New York City and was one of the most spectacular palace theaters of the 1920s. The 3,293 seat theater was home to vaudeville and movies. By the 1960s, however, movie places, unable to make expenses, closed.

The Palace is now home to Reverend Ike’s United Church. I was astounded to learn that Reverend Ike (Frederick Eikerenkoetter) purchased this property in 1969 for a piddling $600,000! What a coup de theatre for them. Recently, in addition to its function as church headquarters, music concerts are also being held at the Palace with names like Neil Young, Annie Lennox, Van Morrison, Bjork, and Iggy Pop. The performances are managed by Andy Felz, who formerly ran the Beacon Theater.

Reverend Ike himself is quite a controversial character. Rather than maintain a secretive and defensive posture regarding the church’s and the Reverend’s affluence, typical of most wealthy religious organizations, Reverend Ike has made it the cornerstone of his ministry with outrageous actions, such as the “Blessing of the Cadillacs,” where wealthy congregants were invited to drive their luxury cars past the church’s doors for his laying on of hands. The reverend owns a fleet of Rolls Royces appointed in mink as well as multiple mansions, and he flaunts diamond rings and expensive suits.

I want to see Reverend Ike in action and the interior of this place. I will report back when I do.

4 Responses to United Palace Theater

  1. Amazing architecture! Love the building and the photo.

  2. Gorgeous! inside and outside
    Curious story!

  3. Lily Hydrangea says:

    what a great story. It’s a shame those old time movie theatres couldn’t stay open. Although it definitely does not look like a church, at least it is put to good use, I guess…

  4. what a beautifully decorated building…will have to go by it in person sometime….

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