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Architects: George Frederick Pelham
Previous Names: Bunny Theatre, Dorset Theatre, Tapia Theatre
Opened in around December 1913 as the Bunny Theatre. The name ‘Bunny’ has over the years been incorrectly attributed to early film star John Bunny, but this is not the case. The Bunny Theatre was built for Carl E. Schultze, an artist and creator of the popular ‘Foxy Grandpa’ comic strip, which he signed with his pen name ‘Bunny’ and a drawing of a rabbit. Across the top of the façade, a stone inscription read the name ‘Bunny’, and on each side of the name was a rabbit head. By 1930, there was also a 702-seat Bunny Roof Theatre operating here. Schultze died in 1939, and by 1941 it had been renamed Dorset Theatre when it was operated by Harris Theatrical Enterprises. It retained the Dorset Theatre name until at least 1958. It was later renamed Tapia Theatre.
The Tapia Theatre was purchased in 1978 by Adriana & Ramon Nova and was renamed Nova Theatre following a refurbishment. In 1983 it was being operated by Lesser Theatre Services. The Nova’s would later pass it over to their son Jesus Nova and the theatre was triplexed. Although the Bunny Theatre’s sign is gone, remnants of the original exterior and interior remained. The very top of the building’s façade remained as originally built.
Sadly, the Nova Theatre closed in late-August 2002 and was gutted. Jesus Nova went on to operate the Coliseum Theatre (former RKO Coliseum Theatre, now demolished) at W. 181st Street & Broadway. A 99 cent store has opened in the former Bunny Theatre building. In the Summer of 2009, the decorative façade was taken down.
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