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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

 

Property Name Brook Theater
Reference Number 14000190
State New Jersey
County Somerset
Town Bound Brook Borough
Street Address 10 Hamilton Street
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 5/5/2014
Areas of Significance ENTERTAINMENT/RECREATION, PERFORMING ARTS
Link to full file https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/14000190.pdf
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The Brook Theater was constructed as a vaudeville house in 1927, became a popular regional venue for a wide range of entertainments which drew crowds from nearby as well as the surrounding towns and counties, and has seen the likes of W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, Sophie Tucker, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Tony Bennett, and countless motion pictures. At the time of its opening, the Brook was considered by locals to be a focal point in "the hub of a splendid theater district," for although the milesquare town boasted three additional entertainment venues, albeit considerably smaller than the 1300-seat Brook, it was within a twenty-minute drive by automobile to over fifty thousand people.1 While the first 25 years of the twentieth century evolved into the "Golden Age of Vaudeville," this form of stage entertainment experienced a rapid decline starting in 1930, due to the emergence and perfection of talking pictures.2 Spanning the changing eras from vaudeville to talking pictures, the design of the Brook, which in many ways mimicked theaters closer to New York, easily accommodated the new form of entertainment. The Brook had already offered the new moving pictures as part of the larger vaudeville shows during the 1927 to 1929 period. From 1930 until 1963, under the management of first the Fox-Metropolitan Corporation and then the Scouras Theater Group, the Brook operated continuously as a performing arts center and first-run movie house. It continued to do so until the flood of 1999. The Brook remains the only theater in Somerset County surviving from the vaudeville era. Its existence within the community brought crowds of people to its doors and strengthened the role of the town within the central Jersey region. The Brook's importance to the town of Bound Brook meets National Register Criterion A for local significance in entertainment history.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria