Jacques Opera House

Phoenix Avenue,
Waterbury, CT 06702

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Jacques Opera House

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Built in 1893 by Jean Jacques. Located on Phoenix Avenue. Opened up as a legitimate theater. During its early years all “great artists of the day” appeared there. Around 1897 Poli appears in Waterbury with one of his first theaters. Competes with Jacques. Competition for customers results in the two working as partners. Jacques moves to Poli’s as manager while Poli runs the old Jacques theater. Jacques dies in 1905. Poli then runs both theaters.

First movie in Waterbury was shown here. In later years the Jacques was vaudeville then a burlesque house. Closes doors in late-1940’s.

Sold and demolished in 1954. Land became parking lot for local bank. Location is now where Uconn Waterbury campus is.

Contributed by John Wiehn

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on February 22, 2005 at 3:55 am

Actually t the Jacques opened in 1885.

JohnW
JohnW on February 25, 2005 at 5:19 pm

Correction by John Wiehn

Jacques opened up in November of 1886.

anexwaterburian
anexwaterburian on August 15, 2005 at 12:26 am

John M. Fitzgerald operated Jacques' first movie camera and the film was allowed to spin out of the machine and into a paper bag. After the show, the film was tediously rewound by hand. Fitzgerald was a stage manager at Jacques and the old Poli’s. He was one of the first to operate one of the hand-cranked projectors of that era, lighted by live current which arced between two sticks of carbon. The film was celluloid and highly flammable, so that the heat generated by the carbon arc lamp posed a constant threat of fire.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on August 17, 2005 at 6:39 pm

I was in Waterbury on Monday and decided to visit every listed Waterbury movie theater, living or deceased. There is a building on Phoenix Avenue right near the main drag that looks like a movie theatre on the left up the hill but that’s not the location.

anexwaterburian
anexwaterburian on January 19, 2006 at 1:57 am

A photo of Jacques in the early 1900s is at View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 26, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Jacques Opera House in Waterbury is listed in the 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide. Jean Jacques was the Mgr. and the seating was 1,640. The theatre had both gas and electric illumination, and was on the ground floor. The proscenium opening was 33 feet wide X 30 feet high and the stage was 33 feet deep. There were 6 in the house orchestra. Waterbury newspapers were the American, Republican, Democrat, and Herald. Hotels were Scoville House, Franklyn, Arlington, Cooley and Earle. Railroad was the New Haven RR. The 1897 population was 45,000. The Guide also lists the Auditorium in Waterbury. Its manager was also Jean Jacques. It had 1,620 seats and its stage was slightly larger. It was also on the ground floor.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on September 26, 2007 at 9:46 pm

There are 2 pictures of this theatre (interior and exterior) in Images of America: Waterbury on pages 52-3. They mentioned 1,000 seats including a balcony and private boxes.

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