Located on 125th Street in Harlem, New York City, the Victoria Theater was designed in 1917 by Thomas W. Lamb, a notable and prolific theater architect of the era, for the Loew’s Corporation.The Loew’s Victoria Theater, as it was known until 1977, opened as a 2,394-seat, luxury vaudeville and motion picture theater. Typical of movie palaces of its era, it contained a stage and backstage dressing rooms and provisions for live music, including an organ. It cost $250,000 to build and was hailed “as one of the largest and most beautiful theaters in greater N.Y.” by a contemporary publication. When the Victoria was built, it joined many other Harlem theaters including the Proctor, Hammerstein Opera House, the Alhambra as well as the nearby Apollo, then the Hurtig & Seamon’s New (Burlesque) Theater.
In 1977, the Harlem Community Development Corporation acquired the building.
The Victoria has experienced numerous changes since its opening, the most radical being its conversion to a multi-screen movie theater; in 1987, five movie theaters were created from the large auditorium, mezzanine and stage areas. The theater closed in 1989 and in 2005 several proposals for redevelopment were made. Only two proposals call for reusing the theater’s interior, which has angered some community leaders, according to the New York Times.
Photograph from interior of the B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre, Boston, designed by Lamb and opened in 1928.