41 West Blackwell Street,
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The Baker Theatre opened on December 5, 1906 and was considered one of the premier entertainment showcases in New Jersey. It cost $75,000 to build the Baker Theatre which was known for its plaster ornaments and friezes, cast in New York City by the same company that decorated the New York Hippodrome. The Baker Theatre housed picture shows which were shown at 7PM followed by 5 acts of vaudeville at 8PM. A seven piece orchestra played for both the picture and stage shows.
The founder and builder, Mr. Baker died on November 16, 1910 at 87. His son, Henry O. Baker took the theatre over and in 1924 the theatre underwent extensive remodeling to make it fireproof. On June 30 three stores were demolished at 37 and 39 West Blackwell Street to make way for the new building and a new entrance. The entire theatre’s materials were constructed of brick, concrete, and steel. The project cost $100,000 which included a modern New York-style marquee. The Baker Theatre now had 1,600 seats, re-opening on December 22, 1924.
The theatre passed into the hands of Stanley Fabian. On March 18, 1929 the theatre showed its first talking picture “On Trial”. A few years later the theatre underwent yet another major renovation where the second balcony was eliminated and a projection room installed. Its current balcony was expanded and re-modeled. When it reopened it was called the New Baker Theatre.
Many stage and screen actors visited or resided in Dover. Silent stars Al St. John and Buster Keaton made motion pictures in Dover. Pearl White (“The Perils of Pauline”) also made several pictures in Dover. Rex Beach, author, was often seen in local stores. Many actors and actresses appeared in plays at the Baker including DeWolfe Hopper, Helen Hayes, Lillian Russell and Ethel Barrymore. Top vaudeville acts also appeared at the Baker including Abbott and Costello.
Presently, the Baker’s stage is the largest in northern New Jersey and boasts a 1500 square foot gigantic sunken hardwood floor. It also has marble staircases, multiple balconies, a video projection unit and a theater screen.
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