701 West 181st Street
Opened: September 23, 1920
Architect: Eugene deRosa
The Coliseum Theatre in Washington Height was built by B.S. Moss, initially hosting vaudeville supplemented by feature films. It was reputedly the third largest theatre in the country when it opened and included an 85-foot grand lobby, a Moller 3/15 Op. 2954 organ and space for a 25-piece orchestra. When the theatre later became part of the RKO chain, it hosted first-run double features.
In the early 1980s the theatre was split into a triplex with orchestra section as one theatre and the mezzanine split into two smaller theatres. The orchestra section and stage were later removed to make space for retail, leaving only the two mezzanine theatres. The theatres were further subdivided to make a quad cinema in 1991. In the early 2000s, the theatre was closed for a time but was renovated and reopened.
The prior resident of the theatre site was the Blue Bell Tavern, which was originally constructed between 1725 and 1730. During the American Revolution the building was used by both American and British forces as the area changed hands. The tavern was rebuilt numerous times over the years until finally being razed in 1915 to make space for the Coliseum Theatre.
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