123 Main Street East,
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A theatre had existed on this South Avenue site since the 1860’s. The first theatre built on this spot was destroyed by fire in the 1890’s and replaced with a new theatre by the name of Cook’s Opera House. Under this name it hosted such stars as Buffalo Bill and Sarah Bernhardt.
The interior was a fairly elaborate late-Victorian opera house with two horseshoe shaped balconies. The five story facade was topped with a frieze spelling out the theatre’s name, underneath which was a row of terra cotta busts depicting characters from the opera “Faust”.
In the 1920’s Cook’s Opera House began operating as the Family Theatre, and was the last holdout in Rochester to show silent movies when talkies were sweeping all before them. Later the theatre became the Embassy, which was mainly known for its burlesque shows.
The theatre was closed in the 1950’s and remained a well preserved, but shuttered, building until the 1980’s, when city began eyeing the site for a new convention center. While the convention center was being opposed by local citizens interested in restoring Cook’s Opera House and reopening, it a fire of “mysterious origin” swept through the structure and destroyed it, causing Rochester to lose it’s final 19th century theatre, remaining in near original condition.
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