2. Spooner Theatre

Spooner Theater in the Bronx

Opened in 1913, the Spooner Theatre on Southern Boulevard was named for actress Cecil Spooner, who together with her producer/husband, signed a 20-year lease to use it as a base for her theater company. Her association with the site turned out to be short but eventful.

Several months into her residency, Spooner presented a drama called “House of Bondage” which provided a stark look at the practice of forcing young women into prostitution; in those days known as “white slavery.” Shortly before the third performance, she was arrested for presenting an “improper theatrical performance.” (Police had attended the premiere and documented the impropriety with the help of a stenographer.) Spooner was soon released by the authorities but subsequent productions, including a brief run on Broadway, included alterations to the script.

Despite public support for Spooner in response to her arrest, her theater company’s operations ceased in spring 1914 due to financial problems. The venue soon became part of the Loew’s chain and started showing films. Loew’s kept the Spooner name, while Cecil Spooner soon went on to Hollywood for a silent film career.

Spooner Theatre was part of a larger entertainment venue called Hunts Point Palace, which later became famous as a Latin music venue. It is now occupied by stores and while the original theater signage is gone the facade retains ornate gilded details.