Bardavon 1869 Opera House

35 Market Street,
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

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Bardavon Under Construction  - 2001

Built in 1869, the Bardavon Opera House, as its name implies, was originally an opera house.

The massive 19th century house was overhauled for film when it was taken over by Paramount in 1923 — a remodeling still evident by its interior appearance.

In 1943, the Bardavon, and the office building in front of it, was purchased by the famed movie studio’s exhibition unit.

In 1947, the theater and its marquee were modernized, and later, the theater was managed by ABC. The Bardavon closed as a movie house in 1975.

About to be demolished to make way for a parking lot, the Dutchess County Arts Council and local residents formed the Concerned Citizens to Save the Bardavon and leased the old theater.

Soon, the Bardavon 1869 Opera House group was formed and a campaign to save the theater began.

The Bardavon was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 20, 1977 and returned to showing live productions.

Since 1980, more than $5 million dollars has been spent to restore the theater, and the theater has completed the Marquee and Facade projects entering into a new campaign which will bring about the restoration of the theater auditorium as well as other projects.

Contributed by Elizabeth Oakley, Chris Silva

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

kencmcintyre on August 21, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Confirmed by Wikipedia:

The Bardavon can seat up to 944.

The name Bardavon is taken from an old mural in the building, long since painted over, entitled The Bard of Avon (a reference to William Shakespeare).

Mark Twain once performed on its stage.

Those who visited the Bardavon as guests of honor include industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone of the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge), as well as former US Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (both appearing in political rallies at the Bardavon).

Bob Dylan has used the Bardavon for tour rehearsals as well as rehearsals for his 2006 album Modern Times.

kencmcintyre on August 22, 2008 at 1:03 pm

In 2003, the Bardavon newsletter stated that the aforementioned mural was commissioned in 1923 and was based on an engraving from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”:

kencmcintyre on August 22, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Not really, but I am a Shakespeare fan. I was reading Julius Caesar the other day when I saw the posting for the Bardavon, so that made me wonder about the origin of the name. I would be curious to know if it is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable or the second A.

kencmcintyre on August 22, 2008 at 1:43 pm

It does. Thanks for the information.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on September 15, 2008 at 4:49 pm

A 1996 view of the Bardavon Theatre in Poughkeepsie.

kencmcintyre on December 3, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Here are some February 2002 photos:

TLSLOEWS on May 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Very nice photos.

jovanderlee on February 28, 2015 at 9:45 am

for Organ Buffs, the Bardavon is one of only a handful of theaters in NY State, still operating with its ORIGINAL Wurlitzer pipe organ in there. Briefly, it was rescued by the New York Theatre Society in 1985 , renovated, re-installed and being used for special events and as part of the Classic Film Series. John Vanderlee Curator

jovanderlee on June 19, 2016 at 5:11 pm

There was a painting on the proscenium depicting Shakespeare sitting on the banks of the Avon. Hence the “Bard of Avon” or Bardavon.

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