Bardavon 1869 Opera House

35 Market Street,
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

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MissAmanda on March 16, 2020 at 11:12 am

The name is pronounced BAR-duh-von. I grew up in Poughkeepsie in the 1950s. Many fond memories of the Bardavon — also of the Colonial, the Liberty (later renamed the Midtown), the Stratford, the Juliet. All distant memories now, long gone.

I remember that at the Bardavon, the refreshment stand was originally out in the lobby, near the entrance. Sometime in the late 1950s/early 1960s they renovated the place and moved the refreshment stand inside, at the back of the auditorium.

The balcony was usually not open unless the orchestra seats were sold out for a blockbuster movie. It was always a treat to be able to go sit up in the balcony.

jovanderlee on June 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

There was a painting on the proscenium depicting Shakespeare sitting on the banks of the Avon. Hence the “Bard of Avon” or Bardavon.

jovanderlee on February 28, 2015 at 6:45 am

for Organ Buffs, the Bardavon is one of only a handful of theaters in NY State, still operating with its ORIGINAL Wurlitzer pipe organ in there. Briefly, it was rescued by the New York Theatre Society in 1985 , renovated, re-installed and being used for special events and as part of the Classic Film Series. John Vanderlee Curator

TLSLOEWS on May 19, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Very nice photos.

kencmcintyre on December 3, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Here are some February 2002 photos:

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on September 15, 2008 at 1:49 pm

A 1996 view of the Bardavon Theatre in Poughkeepsie.

kencmcintyre on August 22, 2008 at 10:43 am

It does. Thanks for the information.

kencmcintyre on August 22, 2008 at 10:24 am

Not really, but I am a Shakespeare fan. I was reading Julius Caesar the other day when I saw the posting for the Bardavon, so that made me wonder about the origin of the name. I would be curious to know if it is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable or the second A.

kencmcintyre on August 22, 2008 at 10:03 am

In 2003, the Bardavon newsletter stated that the aforementioned mural was commissioned in 1923 and was based on an engraving from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”:

kencmcintyre on August 21, 2008 at 6:59 pm

Confirmed by Wikipedia:

The Bardavon can seat up to 944.

The name Bardavon is taken from an old mural in the building, long since painted over, entitled The Bard of Avon (a reference to William Shakespeare).

Mark Twain once performed on its stage.

Those who visited the Bardavon as guests of honor include industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone of the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge), as well as former US Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (both appearing in political rallies at the Bardavon).

Bob Dylan has used the Bardavon for tour rehearsals as well as rehearsals for his 2006 album Modern Times.

kencmcintyre on August 21, 2008 at 6:08 pm

The Bard of Avon would be William Shakespeare. I don’t know if there’s any connection to the Bardavon, however.

teecee on August 21, 2008 at 5:29 pm

my photo from 7/3/06:

View link

ghentbois on November 12, 2007 at 11:12 am

There were a great number of “Opera Houses” in the U.S [for the most part,the latter part] during the 19th Century.
These were usually the entertainment centers of a small city. They were mainly a venue for lectures, which were a major form of entertainment. Mark Twain was a regular “Opera House” attraction in many cities, coast to coast. Imagine hearing his wit,coming from his own lips!
A number of these sites have been converted into movie theatres and in the past 15-20 years,local “Performing Arts Centers."
As a rule, these buildings were quite plain in their interior design and devoid of major architectural embellishments. In many of these,boxes[some real,some faux] flanking the proscenium were the sole adornment.
The Bardavon is a good example of one of these, as is the Mahawie Theatre in Great Barrington, Mass.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 18, 2006 at 7:43 am

As the Collingwood Opera House, the Bardavon is listed in the 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide. The seating capacity is given as 1,550. The Mgr. was E.B. Sweet and the theatre was located on the ground floor. It had both gas and electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 40 feet square, and the stage was 32 feet deep. There were 8 members of the house orchestra. Hotels in Poughkeepsie included the Nelson House, the Morgan House and the Troy House. The population was 25,000.

kencmcintyre on December 3, 2006 at 8:29 am

Here is an article with some background:

GWaterman on February 20, 2006 at 2:21 pm

Although I am ever mindful of the need to perserve our historical theatres, I am somewhat amused by the posts here that describe the Bardavon as having an enormous stage and having “catacombs” to get lost in. In the ‘80’s I toured with Broadway bus and truck shows, and played the Bardavon several times. Although these shows are designed to play almost anywhere, and casts and stage scenery were reduced to the barest minimum in order to move in, perform, and move out in a single day, the Bardavon stands out as one of the smallest stages we ever shoe-horned our shows into. The stage was too shallow to permit the actors to crossover inside the building —– we had to re-block several scenes to accommodate this.

fibber2 on January 26, 2006 at 12:26 pm

She really is a grand old hall. I have had the honor of singing on stage a number of times as part of a community choral group formerly associated with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Whenever possible, I would steel away and get lost in the catacombs under the stage/auditorium, or up top and back from the loft. I attended the Wurlitzer unveiling some years ago after the restoration of the famed pipe organ.

UPAC up in Kingston, NY is another treasure.

Coate on June 22, 2005 at 4:44 am

“There is a difference in the address listed above and the address listed on the web site for the Bardavon, the web site lists the address as 35 Market St. Which is the correct address?” (CharlesVanBibber)

I have a few Poughkeepsie Journal newspaper ads from 1966 & ‘67 for the Bardavon’s engagement of “The Sound Of Music,” and the address given is 35 Market Street. At any rate, it looks like the address has already been corrected at the top of the page.

Suwanti on June 18, 2005 at 1:16 pm

Another gem in New York is restored to its original usage.

skyvue on November 17, 2002 at 7:24 pm

The late, “great” moviemaker Ed Wood Jr. (of PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE fame) grew up in Poughkeepsie and, as a teen, worked as an usher at the Bardavon.

LarryGoldfarb on October 18, 2001 at 5:20 pm

I actually performed at the Bardavon in the late 1970s as part of a children’s theater group. I remember the stage being enormous, and there was a beautiful marquee out front (I believe it was the original). However, from the picture provided, it seems to have been taken down. Hopefully, it will be restored. Poughkeepsie is a great town for old architecture and the Bardavon was a big part of that.