“When first opened in August 1913, the Bronx Opera House was considered the most beautiful theater in the borough,” states the wonderful theater history site Cinema Treasures.
Part of the “subway circuit” for vaudeville shows and first stop when Broadway plays hit the road, this Beaux-Arts jewel on Third Avenue and 149th Street hosted performers like Eddie Cantor, John Barrymore, and Harry Houdini, reports Bill Twomey’s The Bronx: In Bits and Pieces.
“The auditorium had two separate balconies, and was dominated by a huge crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling,” writes Cinema Treasures.
It sounds lovely—but its glory days didn’t last. By World War II, the German-Americans who patronized the opera house had moved away, replaced by Spanish-speaking immigrants.
The opera house became a movie theater, then various Latin-themed dance clubs, and by the 1980s was housing a church.
Today, it looks like an empty shell. But listen to this: a high-end boutique hotel is set to open here this year. The newly christened Bronx Opera House Hotel plans to charge $125 to $145 per night!
[Photo: Cinema Treasures]