Do you want to travel back in time? Do you want to catch a glimpse of the ambiance of glorious days long gone? If yes, you are not alone! The proof lies in the huge number of fellow travelers, like yourself, who go and visit the Plaza Colon Yaguez Theater, a landmark restored to its rightful historical, artistic, and cultural eloquence.
The Opulence of the Past
The Yaguez Theater at Plaza Colon in Mayaguez is a lovable curiosity for those who delight in imagining the times when ceremony and an abiding love for luxury were the order of the day. Such opulence would probably be regarded as being over-the-top, or even strange, these days, but in the early 1900s, it was definitely a well-known lifestyle, and the architectural impressiveness of the Yaguez Theater was the ideal location to showcase such an exultation of life and spirit.
Initially opened as an Opera House in 1909, the Teatro Yaguez was designed with a Baroque style, with ceilings imported from Italy, and carpets from Spain. True to its calling, the Yaguez Theater has been the venue for a wide assortment of plays, operas, orchestral performances, dance performances, and silent movies.
Actually, silent movies were one of the main reasons for the construction of the Theater. It was Francisco Maymón Palmer, a noted mover in cinematography and the silent film industry of Puerto Rico during the early 1900s, who directed the establishment of the cinematic and cultural events venue.
It should be noted that religious persuasions at the time didn’t really look kindly on the performing arts. Conservatives and traditionalists saw theater as a bad influence on local culture and the youth. For all that, Puerto Rican society ended up welcoming the cultural edifice and making it a part of the social fabric.
A Tragic Fire
In 1919, at the height of its popularity, fire hit the Yaguez Theater and destroyed its wooden frames. The fire was doubly tragic, in the sense that around 150 people died as a result of the blaze, and the damage to the structure was such, given how expensive it had been to assemble. Yet, the indomitable spirit of a brilliant Puerto Rican architect, Sabàs Honoré, held sway, and resulted in the reconstruction of the theater.
National Historical Landmark
In 1985, the Yaguez Theater became included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, an impressive achievement considering how the Theater is not in the mainland, is relatively not familiar to a lot of Americans. Today, the Theater has marble, velvet seats and balconies, and crystal chandeliers adorning its interiors.
It is not just an ornamental tourist destination, however. It is still highly functional, continuing to delight audiences with Spanish performances, and the occasional performances in English.
The Yaguez Theater is sometimes referred to as the Lucy Boscana Hall, in recognition of the actress and teacher who was born in Mayagüez. However, it’s actually only the stage and auditorium that was named after Ms. Boscana. The other name by which the Theater goes is La Catedral Del Arte Sonoro or The Cathedral of Sonorous Art. This was given by Maymón Palmer in the old days, in reference to the fact that the Yaguez Theater was a Cathedral, in the architectural and visual sense.