Bronx Theatre

436 East 149th Street,
Bronx, NY 10455

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OLD 1943 PHOTO

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 never happened. 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. A boutique hotel was built on the site, using the front part of the building as its entrance, and it opened in August 2013.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 28, 2008 at 10:33 am

Listed at 438 E. 149 in the 1960 yellow pages.

Yves Marchand
Yves Marchand on October 30, 2009 at 1:21 pm

On a recent visit, we discovered that the office building seems to be in the process to be converted into an hotel. Unfortunately, the auditorium has just recently been demolished.

mpadwee
mpadwee on November 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

Wasn’t there another Bronx Theater at Melrose Avenue and East 151st Street that was opened by Keith in 1909? Does anyone know anything about this theater? I believe I located a 1909 article describing some of it’s interior decorations. (“Trenton Advances Ceramic Interests to Extent Never Before Approached in U.S.” in the Trenton Evening Times, Sept. 7, 1909, p. 1)

LuisV
LuisV on April 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

This building is indeed being converted in to 3 star boutique hotel. Complete details available at this link:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/manhattan-developer-hard-work-boutique-hotel-forgotten-south-bronx-opera-house-e-149th-st-article-1.1061219

Except for the facade, there doesn’t appear to be any of the interior left to save though the history of its former life will part of the interior decoration of the new hotel property.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm

This first opened as the Bronx Opera House on the night of August 30th, 1913, promising weekly changes of stage plays and musicals. The first booking was the comedy, “Fine Feathers,” with the entire cast from the original Broadway production earlier that year at the Astor Theatre, according to a report in The New York Times.

LuisV
LuisV on August 19, 2013 at 11:45 am

The Bronx Opera House Hotel is Now Open! It is the first luxury hotel to open in the borough and it is astounding that it has opened in the South Bronx, a neighborhood that epitomized all that was wrong with urban America in the 70’s and 80’s. The city of New York has truly blossomed and all the boroughs are enjoying an incredible renaissance.

http://therealdeal.com/blog/2013/08/19/bronxs-first-boutique-hotel-opens-its-doors/

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm

History of the theatre at the new hotel’s website: operahousehotel

degar
degar on October 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Lived on 148th street behind the Bronx Opera House. Used to play ball on the back wall in 1946 to 1950. In my day, it never was a first run movie house so it was cheep compared to the local RKOs and Lowes. Neither was it an Opera House. Had no stage shows. I was around 14 years old and used to sneak into the adult section, get all the way down in my seat and smoke. Seldom got caught by the Matron.

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