On April 18, 1927 the grandest and most magnificent theatre in the history of Nassau County opened its doors to the public. It was billed as, “The Theatre Classic of Long Island”. The much anticipated event was greeted by a host of celebrities and dignitaries of the day including the infamous Mayor Jimmie (Beau James) Walker and W.C. Fields. The theatre was the dream of theatrical impresario Michael Glynne who wished to give Long Island a palatial playhouse where the finest silent movies of that era would be screened, along with a stage where the top vaudeville entertainers would perform. The builder of the lavish Floral Theatre, whose name appears on all official documentation, was John McNeil who later became mayor of the village.
The first silent movies to be shown at the theatre were “The Princess of Hoboken” and the Hal Roach comedy “Duck Soup”. Movies were accompanied by various dance troupes, vaudevillians and newsreels. A $25,000 concert organ was installed and Ben Nelson became the musical director of the symphony orchestra that would play there for many years to come.
The 1920’s roared on, and in April 11, 1929, the theatre heralded in the first talking picture, which ended the silent era of cinema. The 1930’s brought jitterbug contests to the stage, while the 1940’s asked theatre goers to “Buy War Bonds”. Celebrities continued the rich tradition of making personal appearances and performing for the audience. During the following decades the theatre remained the cultural and civic center of the village.
One step into the theatre and you can see and feel the history which surrounds you. A look up at the preserved ceiling of this majestic structure, and you can see the stars, both earthly and celestial.