53 E. 11th Street,
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Previous Names: Renata Theatre, Soho Cinema, Sobo Theatre
Opened in 1964 as an off-Broadway playhouse, known as the Renata Theatre. The owner Ozgur Zurer lived in an apartment above the theatre. It had simple clean lines in the auditorium, which is set back somewhat behind a long narrow lobby.
In 1967, it was purchased by Grove Street Press and renamed Evergreen Theatre. In 1968, it switched to presenting art movies, premiering a number of significant and often provocative films. In June of 1968 it was in it’s fifth week of Andy Warhol’s “I, A Man” shown along with an underground newsreel. It was best known for its co-premiere of “I Am Curious, Yellow” (which also co-premiered at the Cinema Rendezvous). By 1971, it had reverted to live shows. From April 23, 1971 it was renamed Soho Cinema and was showing gay porno films. It briefly continued as a gay adult cinema named Sobo Theatre.
In 1976, the building was sold to the New York City Baha'i community and was converted into a house of worship, which has remained ever since. The auditorium was eventually named for John Birks ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie. Regular services are open to all, as are frequent concerts and other live performances that take place there.
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