Nova Theatre

3589 Broadway,
New York, NY 10031

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Showing 51 - 75 of 111 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 18, 2007 at 1:24 pm

What is the basis for the claim that this was originally called Bunny Photoplays? If you examine the vintage B&W photo on page 74 of David Naylor’s “Great American Movie Theaters,” the vertical sign says “Bunny” at the top and has “Photo Plays” (two words not one) across the bottom. I believe that “Photo Plays” only specifies that movies were being shown there, and should not be taken as part of the name of the theatre. On the attraction board above the entrance, it says just “Bunny.”…Also, on June 8, 1915, The New York Times reported that the operating lease of the Bunny Theatre had just been sold to Brandon & Banbury, at a rent of $9,000 per year. Again on October 29, 1922, the NYT reported that the lease on the Bunny Theatre had been sold to Harry A. Harris, who also operated the Bluebird Theatre on Amsterdam Avenue & 146th Street. Advertising in The New York Times also shows it as the Bunny Theatre.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 18, 2007 at 1:07 pm

You might be thinking of the Costello Theater which is listed on Cinema Treasures here:


Movieplace on April 18, 2007 at 12:38 pm

There was a theater on Fort Washington Avenue, right at the begining of the Avenue. It was practically right behind the Rio. It is still there as a church. I have forgotten the name. Do you remember?



Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 18, 2007 at 11:57 am

In The New York Times of October 3rd, 1971, the theatre was mentioned in an article by Phillip H. Dougherty about his memories of bargain shopping in the New York area: “We were Lower Washington Heights people in those days, living close to the Bunny Theater, which was to change its name to the Dorset in search of chic. Well, what I was about to say before I got caught in the grip of nostalgia (do you know that the Bunny had an outdoor theater on the roof during the summer?) was that we were living perhaps within equal distance of the original Alexander’s on Fordham Road and S. Klein’s (On the Square).”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm

I’ve never heard of a theatre in NYC called the Harrison, cinema or otherwise. It could be a misprint, or perhaps a reference to a theatre in Harrison in Westchester County…The Tapia photo is not online, but a copy can be purchased from THS. The file number is NYC-MM-MAN-121-01.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 17, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Thanks for getting a confirmation on the photo. Any chance of the THS allowing you to link to the Tapia photo? Thats one mystery solved. The second question that Al asked was the location of a Harrison Theater in Manhattan. Next time Al logs in maybe he can elaborate on the Harrison Theater. I’ll ask if the aka names of Dorset and Tapia can be added to the top of this page.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 17, 2007 at 12:11 pm

I discovered that Theatre Historical Society of America has a B&W exterior of the Tapia in its Michael Miller Photo Collection, so I asked executive director Richard Sklenar if he could compare it with that of the Nova photo in the CT introduction above. He graciously did and concluded that they are the same theatre, also remembering that he had seen it at the last THS conclave in New York. The photo of the Tapia is undated but appears to be from the 1970s. At the time, the store to the north of the entrance was occupied by a dry cleaner’s. The Tapia’s rounded marquee was retained by the Nova, with just a name change across the front. I suspect that the Tapia marquee was inherited from the previous Dorset. Unfortunately, THS has no photos of the theatre as the Dorset.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 14, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Some of the early Film Daily Year Books give an address of 3587 Broadway for the Bunny Theatre and 3589 Broadway for the Bunny Roof. I suspect that those two premises were combined for what became the Dorset Theatre, which used an address of 3589 Broadway. A new auditorium might have been built behind the street exterior.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 14, 2007 at 1:07 pm

The movie on the marquee, “The Heart of Jenifer” (Jennifer might be spelled wrong) has a date of 1915 on the Imdb website. If you look at the modern photo at the top of the page, it appears that the windows were bricked up. Yet in the 1915? photo, there are no windows either. I wonder if the building ever had windows or was it designed to give the appearance of having windows.

AlAlvarez on April 14, 2007 at 5:55 am

That’s the one! Thanks guys, I will figure it out some day.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 13, 2007 at 9:53 pm

Al….Were you trying to link to this photo of the Bunny Theater? Your link didn’t work. LOL

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 13, 2007 at 6:41 pm

It doesn’t work for me. If it’s supposed to be a link to an image in a scrapbook, I think that you need to do some fine tuning. All I see is a blurb for the company that runs the website.

AlAlvarez on April 13, 2007 at 6:29 pm

Please let me know if this works!

View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 13, 2007 at 3:58 pm

David Naylor’s “Great American Movie Theaters” credits George H. Pelham as architect of the Bunny Theatre, with an opening date of 1913. I don’t think that Pelham was a prolific designer of theatres. There are no other theatres credited to him in Naylor’s book…I don’t know how deeply Naylor researched the Bunny for the book, which was published in 1987. He writes that “The Bunny opened as a showcase for silent pictures, including those of its namesake, silent star John Bunny. Now it has been renamed for its current owner, Jesus Nova.” Naylor seems to create a false impression that the theatre was called the Bunny until being renamed the Nova. I guess that we should be thankful that Nova didn’t call the theatre the Jesus instead.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 13, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Thanks for the information. I have another question about the Nova Theater. On Cinematour, they give the name of the architect for the Nova Theater as George Pelham. He is credited with designing apartment buildings and office buildings in New York but I didn’t know that he also designed theaters. Any idea if Pelham was the architect of this theater?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 13, 2007 at 11:44 am

The name “Bunny” was discarded and replaced by “Dorset” in 1933 or 1934.I believe that “Dorset” was changed to “Tapia” in the mid-to-late 1960s. There was, and perhaps still is, a famous Tapia Theatre in San Juan, Puerto Rico, though it was not a cinema. That’s probably why the name was chosen for the Dorset. The neighborhood was predominantly of Puerto Rican heritage. I think that the Tapia first ran only Hispanic imports, but eventually went mainstream as other theatres closed in Upper Manhattan. “Gone With the Wind” was shown at the Tapia with the dialogue dubbed into Spanish. I doubt if there were English subtitles.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 13, 2007 at 12:02 am

The Tapia Theater was being discussed on the Ridgewood Theater page. This 1974 ad shows a Brandt’s Tapia Theater. The location given in the ad is 148th Street and B'way (thats how I read the ad). Since its near Broadway, it would be West 148th St. I also thought the Tapia was the Bunny/Nova Theater but I have no proof that they are the same theater. Could the Bunny Theater have been renamed the Tapia Theater in the 1970’s before the name was changed to the Nova Theater?

AlAlvarez on April 12, 2007 at 9:40 pm

My previous post appears to be missing, but anyway, the Tapia name I was enquiring about appears in ads in the early seventies.

William on April 12, 2007 at 9:30 pm

The only other one I can think of is the RKO Hamilton at 3560 Broadway.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 12, 2007 at 8:59 pm

Circa 1933-34, the Bunny was modernized and re-named the Dorset. I believe that prior to becoming the Nova, the Dorset had been re-named the Tapia, but I’m not 100% sure. In advertising, the Tapia used an address of Broadway & 148th Street, and 3589 Broadway is very close to that intersection. I don’t know of any other cinemas that ever existed in that immediate radius.

Ace on October 24, 2006 at 6:58 am

Alvarez, I wrote to you a couple days back. Hope you got it.

AlAlvarez on October 20, 2006 at 6:16 am

Ace, I have the book and can send you a scan if you write to me at:

Ace on October 20, 2006 at 5:57 am

Wow, I’d really like to see a scan of that photo if you guys get your hands on the book.

Looking at the photo of the Nova at the top of the page, I also wonder if that was the facade’s original paint scheme. I bet it was (considering the New Coliseum has never been painted) and the new proprietors painting the facade entirely tan only added insult to injury.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 19, 2006 at 11:19 am

I think you’re right, Joe. In the photo there is a vertical sign affixed to the center portion of the facade which featured a large and fanciful oval caricature of a rabbit to compliment the two carved bunnies found at either end of the upper facade.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 19, 2006 at 10:50 am

Ace: I can’t recall for certain, and I don’t have access to my books right now so I can’t check, but I think there was a period photo of Manhattan’s Bunny Theatre in David Naylor’s “American Picture Palaces.” Maybe somebody reading this who has the book at hand can check it and respond. I do know I’ve seen a photo of this theatre in one book or another, and Naylor’s book is the most likely.