Regent Theater in Harlem, 1912

February 7, 2012

This was the Regent Theater at the turn of the 20th century. It is on 116th street where 7th Avenue is crossed over by St. Nicholas Avenue. When the theater was built in late 1912, opening in 1913, the area was predominately a German Jewish enclave. Being that they were well to do, successful Western European types, they deserved a luxurious neighborhood theater. The Regent was designed by Thomas Lamb. It is his first motion picture specific house (a new trend of the time). There was a stage built with the house just in case movies did not work out. Designed to look like the Doge’s Palace in Venice, the Regent sat 1800 in a Spanish Baroque setting, with tones of red, gold, blue and a mural over the proscenium depicting “The Surrender of Granada”.

Built by Biograph Studio founder Henry Marvin, the theater was designed to make movies respectable. A luxurious theater with a large orchestra, large theater organ, ushers in fancy uniforms and programs should have attracted the crowds. The space was initially a failure.

Today it’s a church.

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