Montclair’s Bellevue Theatre Takes Final Steps toward Expected Re-Opening in May 2022

Montclair, NJ – The Bellevue Theatre got one step closer to popcorn and movies Thursday night when its owners, father and daughter Jesse and Doreen Sayegh, testified before Montclair’s Historic Preservation Commission regarding changes they wish to make to the exterior of the historic building.

The Sayeghs plant to add a matching storefront to the theater where plywood is now and to change the color of the iconic theater marquee.

Bellevue Theater owner Jesse Sayegh spoke of bringing symmetry back to the building by restoring a storefront that had been closed up on the right facing side of the building. The Sayeghs also said they wanted to paint the green marquee black to better blend in with the dark brown wood of the Tudor Revival building. The theater’s name/lettering would not change. The commission unanimously approved these exterior plans.

Bellevue Theatre president Doreen Sayegh said the plan was to reopen the Bellevue Theatre in May, but no specific date had been confirmed. The original grand opening of the theater was May 13, 1922 so a May reopening would be fitting. The building was constructed in 1921 and designed by J.H. Phillips.

The Sayeghs announced plans to bring the Bellevue in May 2021 following renovations and refurbishment to the landmark building. The overall interior renovation was to include paint, new carpeting, new floors, and updating all seats with leather recliners downstairs, as well as traditional concession stand.

Doreen Sayegh shared Thursday that her father saw his very first movie in America [“A Bridge Too Far”] at the Bellevue Theatre and guaranteed that the family have put a lot of love, care and concern into the building.

The Bellevue Theatre, 1922, with a canopied entrance and storefronts on either side of the main entrance.

The Bellevue had continuously operated for 95 years until 2017 when it closed after Bow Tie Cinemas lease expired. One of its most fervent supporters involved in the comeback has been Montclair resident Ilmar Vanderer.

Ilmar Vanderer, Doreen Sayegh and Mayor Sean Spiller in May 2021

On Thursday, Vanderer echoed his strong support for the Sayeghs, thanking them for working to maintain the integrity of the theater spaces as well as the building’s historic feel. Vanderer started a Facebook page to keep people apprised of the Bellevue Theatre’s journey.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. It would be wonderful to find out the original opening night entertainment and maybe have that as a theme. 1922? Nosferatu and Nanook of the North according to Google, and, uh-oh, Foolish Wives. Can’t have that.
    Thank you to the Sayeghs! Montclair must have some kind of honorarium if they can pull this off, shouldn’t we?

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