The Teatro Hispano opened in East Harlem in 1911 under the name of The Mt. Morris Theatre, as a Yiddish vaudeville styled theater. As the demographics of the neighborhood shifted during the 1930s, so did the theater’s management. In August of 1934 the Mount Morris reopened as a Spanish-language theater, the “Campoamor”, where Argentinian tango star Carlos Gardel performed on the first night. The theater was under some controversy in 1938 as the Spanish film “Morena Clara” was picketed by pro-loyalist groups because it became known that the film’s star, Imperio Argentina, was a Francoist. Business fell off so sharply that management at the theater had to withdraw “Morena Clara”.
The theater was also known as the Teatro Cervantes, Teatro Hispano, and Radio Teatro Hispano. The theater served as the principal Spanish-language cinema house in New York, as well as the venue for Spanish musical performances. The building that housed this theater located at 116th Street and Fifth Avenue now serves as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith.