Harlem’s historic Victoria Theater reopens following decade-long restoration

March 8, 2024

Photo courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr

Harlem’s historic Victoria Theater has reopened following a decade-long restoration project, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday. The renovation added two flexible performance spaces, offices, and gallery spaces to the Victoria, which opened in 1917 as a vaudeville theater. The 27,000-square-foot facility will be operated by the iconic Apollo Theater, marking the first expansion of the cultural institution in its 90-year history. The Apollo Stages at The Victoria is part of a broader redevelopment project that includes a 28-story hotel, restaurant, and a residential building with nearly 200 apartments.

Photos by Fernando Gonzalez

Designed by Kostow Greenwood Architects, the two new performance spaces, the 199-seat Theater 1 and the 99-seat Jonelle Procope Theater, are equipped with custom, retractable seating that allows for flexible layouts to adapt to any kind of performance. Both spaces can host full theatrical productions, live music performances, film screenings, special events, recordings, and more.

Located just off the lobby is The Apollo’s Laura and Frank Baker Gallery, which will serve as a space for exhibits that educate viewers on the theater’s history and its place in Harlem’s “Opera Row.”

The project preserved the theater’s historic features, including its limestone facade, front entryways, vertical blade sign, lighted marquee, ticket booth, double-height lobby, and foyer.

“As The Apollo celebrates its 90th year, the opening of the new Apollo Stages at The Victoria Theater signifies the beginning of a new era for us,” Apollo President and CEO Michelle Ebanks said.

“With two new theaters, we are able to expand artistic opportunities in the community, but also the role we play here to artists and audiences alike. We are excited to strengthen our support to artists and organizations in Harlem and across New York while expanding our mission to amplify Black voices and opportunities for the next generation of creatives of color.”

Photos by Fernando Gonzalez

The theater’s design follows a “visual rhythm,” featuring seats in bright alternating colors, flat-floor designs, acoustically isolated slabs, resilient sprung dance floors and ceilings, dressing rooms, chorus rooms, and wardrobe studios.

Design firms Charcoal Blue and Flyleaf led the design and installation of the new portal entrance to the Apollo Stages. The project incorporated state-of-the-art AV components, implemented Apollo-branded designs, and improved wayfinding for patrons.

The new office space is located on the third and fourth floors with enough space to house up to 90 staff members and visitors. The space features an open floor plan with private offices, a staff kitchen and seating area, a conference room, and gathering spaces.

Rendering courtesy of NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Photo by Shahar Azran

“One of Harlem’s historic crown jewels shines brighter today thanks to New York State’s investment in its overdue and much deserved restoration,” Hochul said. 

“The Victoria Theater is not only a symbol of the Harlem’s past grandeur, but also a testament to its current vibrancy, and a guarantee that this legendary New York neighborhood will continue to be a cultural force – and with the Apollo’s support – launch the careers of some of the world’s most talented artists and performers.”

Apollo Stages at The Victoria Theater is the “cultural arts centerpiece” of a larger redevelopment project currently taking shape at the site. The 28-story Renaissance New York hotel, constructed behind the existing building and considered the tallest building north of Central Park, and the restaurant The Victoria, opened last year. The 211-room hotel is the first to be built in the neighborhood in nearly a century.

Leasing has begun at the residential component of the project, called the Victoria Tower Residences. The rental building has 191 studio to two-bedroom apartments; current availabilities start at $3,413 for a one-bedroom. A lottery opened for 102 units at the building in 2021.

More information about the Victoria Theater, including tickets & events, can be found here.


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