New Branford Theatre/Cranford, NJ

The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey)

Sunday February 27, 2011



In the mid-1920s, Cranford residents were delighted to learn that a new "up-to-date" moving picture theater would be built on North Avenue. The 1,300-seat theater, which officially opened on Nov. 29, 1926, would boast an $18,000 Wurlitzer organ. T

he main feature on opening night was the silent movie, "Padlocked" with Noah Berry, Louise Dresser and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Offering three shows daily, except Sundays, the theater promised to maintain "a policy of high-class entertainment."

There was only one discordant note: There seems to have been some issue over the use of Cranford in the theater’s name. So, the movie house was named the New Branford Theatre.

At the beginning of 1927, the issue over the name of the theater was ironed out and the "B"s on the electric sign in front of the theater were replaced with "C"s.

On Jan. 27, 1927, the signs were lit with the new name. Giddy with excitement, the local newspaper gushed: "The New Branford is Dead. Long live the New Cranford."

In the 1980s and 1990s, Cineplex Odeon maintained ownership of the theater, which then had two screens. In 1998, the owner of the Rialto Theater in Westfield purchased the theater and converted it to a five-screen movie house. Moviegoers can still catch shows at the theater, located at 25 North Ave.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CRANFORD HISTORICAL SOCIETY Notes: If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history in your community, please call (973) 392-1783 or send an e-mail to union

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