The Duo Multicultural Arts Center building opened in 1889 as a dance and catering hall. The building consisted of restaurants, meeting halls and residences. John Philip Sousa, the famous American composer, established one of the first musicians’ unions in the building’s ballroom.
The ballroom was converted into a theater in the 1930’s and was named the Fortune Theatre. Over the years, the theater had many different uses; it was a Yiddish theater in the 1930’s; a television studio in the 1950’s; and was the home of Channel One Theater (a comedy improv theater) during the 1960’s. Andy Warhol rented the theater in 1969 to screen “Boys Adore Galore,” his pornographic film series. Later, Francis Ford Coppola used the theater to film the operetta scene of The Godfather: Part II.
In 1981, the building was taken over by the Duo Multicultural Arts Center, which uses the space as a venue for latino artists in the East Village. The exterior of the building underwent a 2.1 million dollar renovation in 2011. The Duo Theater hope to use the grant from Partners in Preservation to restore the murals and the decorative tin ceiling. More information on the theater can be found at www.duotheater.com
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