Where Rich History Meets Modern Comfort
The Bronx Opera House building is largely the work of George Michael Cohan (1878 – 1942), an eminent actor, playwright, and producer, and George Keister (1859 – Unknown), an architect. Cohan and Sam Harris began planning the Bronx Opera House in 1911, intending to build a sister theater to the old Grand Opera House on Eighth Avenue to try out pre-Broadway productions and to bring shows directly from a successful Broadway engagement.
Cohan and Harris commissioned Keister, one of the City’s foremost theatre architects. The theatre building was given a detailed Beaux-Arts façade fronting on 149th Street, with an auditorium reached through a long foyer that backs onto 148th street. The entire classically-themed auditorium, seating 1,920 on three levels, featured murals and a crystal chandelier. Its full-size stage, equipped for Broadway productions including the scenery, hosted some of the top performers in the history of show business, including Harry Houdini, George Burns, John Bunny, Peggy Wood, John and Lionel Barrymore, and Eddie Cantor.