611-17 58th Street,
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Previous Names: Bijou Theatre, Princess Theatre
The Bijou Theatre was converted from existing retail space in the Young America Building, opening on January 14, 1905 with continuous vaudeville. On September 15, 1913 it was renamed Princess Theatre and was playing live vaudeville and Kinemacolor films. It was closed in May of 1914. On September 24, 1914 it reopened as the Virginian Theatre, again presenting vaudeville and movies. My father said that he was in the audience during a demonstration of radio reception, the novelty of which stunned those present.
It closed on October 30, 1922 when the nearby Orpheum Theatre opened and became a soda fountain. Later returned to retail space as the Leader Store, long a popular clothing and fabric shop (the small balcony held the yard goods department.) The stage is still obvious although there’s no proscenium, and also is used to display merchandise. (The Leader Store closed in the 1990’s and the building was then used as an antiques shop.)
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