436 East 149th Street,
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When first opened in August, 1913, the Bronx Opera House was considered the most beautiful theatre in the borough. The auditorium had two separate balconies, and was dominated by a huge crystal chandelier hanging from the center of the ceiling. The stage opening was 62 feet wide, but as far as I know, operas were never performed there. For many years, the theatre presented only vaudeville and plays, including a long run as part of the so-called “Subway Circuit”.
By the 1940’s, it had become a late-run movie house, with the name simplified to Bronx Theatre. The seating capacity was reduced to 1,400 by shutting down the top balcony. The theatre eventually fell victim to the overall decline of the South Bronx.
In the 1980’s, plans were announced to restore and re-open it as a performing arts center that would help to rejuvenate the area, but that has yet to happen. In 2004, the dilapidated auditorium was being used for a Spanish evangelical church. By late-2010, the church had moved out and the auditorium has been razed. Construction is underway to convert the front part of the building into a hotel.
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