Boston’s Bijou Theater had its first performance. It was the first American playhouse lit exclusively by electricity.
The Bijou Theatre, said to have been the first theatre in America lighted by electricity, opened on December 11, 1882, with Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe”. By the 1885-1886 season, Keith and Albee had leased the Bijou, and by 1892 they owned the theatre and the stores and portion of the Adams House in front of it. After moving pictures became popular, the Bijou was altered into a movie house called the Bijou Dream.
The most memorable feature of the Bijou Dream was the staircase of heavy glass under which flowed an illuminated waterfall. That stairway flanked an escalator with another stairway at its left. In its last days, the theatre was renamed the Intown. Four of its exits led into adjacent theatres, a hazardous arrangement. After the tragic Coconut Grove nightclub fire in Boston, the Intown, a fire marshal’s nightmare, was ordered closed. Eventually it was razed to its orchestra floor, which became the roof of the stores below, enlarged by the removal of the stairs and escalator.