The Reopening of the Boulton Center

by Maria DeKoning

The Boulton Center has been a staple in downtown Bay Shore since the theater opened to the public in 2003. Beloved by many, some say that downtown Bay Shore has not been the same since it’s been closed.

: View of Regents Theater, looking east down Main Street, Bay Shore. Credit Cinema Treasures.

The theater has a rich and intriguing history that allows us to remember the town as it was. The Boulton Center was constructed within the former Regents Movie Theater, which opened on Main Street in 1929. The center has been closed for three years due to the pandemic and was previously under the ownership of the YMCA, but this year was sold back to its original owners, Frank and Karen Boulton, and will reopen late this summer or early fall.

The theater has been nicknamed The Little Theater That Could after its resilience to the challenges it faced. Through a rocky history of openings and closings, the theater has managed to fight back and become a permanent fixture in Bay Shore. After the Regents Movie Theater closed its doors in the late eighties, the Boultons bought the shuttered theater and gifted it to the Great South Bay YMCA in 1997. Renovations commenced and the theater opened in 2003 to serve the community.

Bay Shore - The Reopening of the Boulton Center

The Boulton Center circa 2014. Credit: Boulton Center website.

“I bought tickets to the first show when the Boulton Center reopened,” said long-time theater goer and friend of the center, Andrew Caradona. “I was seated in Row A and was there for well over a hundred shows over the time it was open. We are so thrilled to see it opening again.”

The mission of the Boulton Center (according to the website) has been the same since it first opened in 2003, “To provide high-quality arts programs that entertain, educate, and inspire the culturally, racially, and economically diverse population of Long Island.”

“The center was a good way to anchor Main Street,” said Andrew. “With all the restaurants we have there, people were going to shows before dinner and would make a whole evening of it. It was instrumental in the resurgence of Bay Shore.”

Many will be just as thrilled as Andrew to see the Boulton Center reopened and restored to its former glory. Frank Boulton was not available for comment at the time of this story.

Besides the potential reopening of the theater later this summer, Bay Shore residents can look forward to the annual Memorial Day Parade Monday, May 29, hosted by AmVets Post 76, 44 West Main St. The services will begin at 9 a.m. at the Memorial Park/Bay Shore train station, and the group will begin marching from Lanier Lane and Main Street, through downtown, to the Oakwood Cemetery on Brentwood Road. Be sure to show your support and pull out a chair on Main Street to enjoy the event!