An opening review in The Riverhead News on January 5, 1934 stated:
“No matter which way one turns, there is luxury and comfort, this is exceptionally true in the reception corridor and ladies room, as well as in the entrance lobby.”
The Suffolk is a unique Art Deco theater located on Main Street in historic downtown Riverhead on Long Island. The original architect was R. Thomas Short, of the New York firm Harde & Short.
Mr. Short’s legacy includes eleven movie theaters on Long Island. Notably, The Suffolk is the last remaining movie house built by R. Thomas Short and is also the last remaining large art deco theater on Long Island. The theater was built as a National Recovery Act project for the Century Theater circuit chain.
The Suffolk opened on December 30, 1933. According to newspapers of the day, more than 2000 people attended the opening night festivities and it was hailed as:
“Long Island’s prettiest and most complete playhouse” and “the Radio City Music Hall of Long Island.”
During World War II, The Suffolk was an official issuing agent for U.S. war bonds. Various organizations, including the Long Island Farm Bureau, regularly used the theater for special events and meetings.
“This one project has the ability to almost single-handedly transform Main Street into a vibrant downtown …To have it open and add a thousand people a day to Main Street, or 2,000 on the weekend … this provides the critical mass we need for everything to survive.”
– Former Town Supervisor Sean Walter
The ribbon cutting for The Suffolk took place on March 1, 2013 as period newsboys shouted “Extra, extra, read all about it! The Suffolk re-opens!” The theater officially re-opened to the public on March 2, 2013.
It was a truly historic and magical evening as Main Street was lit up with Hollywood style searchlights, as an eager audience of more than 500 people, dressed in 1930’s attire, arrived in period cars and walked the red carpet! Upon entering the theater, they were greeted by ushers and cigarette girls, were offered a brief welcome by former New York City Mayor, Fiorello H. LaGuardia (portrayed by actor Tony Lo Bianco), and thrilled to the music of the period provided by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.
History was made again that night as people danced the night away and joined in the rousing cheer: there’s always something to celebrate at The Suffolk!