Harlem Opera House
211 W. 125th Street,
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Oscar Hammerstein I opened the Harlem Opera House in 1889, his first New York theater. It was designed by architect John B. McElfatrick, who designed numerous late-19th century theaters around New York and the country. Among those who performed on its stage during its early years included Edwin Booth, Lillian Russell and Sophie Tucker.
The Opera House was located on the same stretch of 125th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues as the Victoria Theatre and the Hurtig & Seamon’s Music Hall (after 1934 renamed the Apollo Theatre).
Around 1900 it became Keith & Proctor’s Harlem Opera House, and this lasted until 1911 when the partnership was dissolved. From then into the early-1920’s, the Harlem Opera House was part of the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit. In 1922, it was taken over by Frank Schiffman, who previously operated the LaFayette Theatre on 135th Street, and who later took over the Apollo Theatre.
For many years the Opera House presented big name jazz acts on stage, and motion pictures on screen.
It closed long ago, and the building which once housed the Opera House has since been demolished.
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