Center Theatre

1236 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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Showing 26 - 50 of 91 comments

CharlesClutzNCARB on March 13, 2009 at 10:29 am

The stage equipment was supervised and built under the direction of Peter Clark, Inc, and the stage and orchestra elevators and revolve were built by Otis Elevator, Inc. The archives of these firms may have the shop drawings and photos of their installations. They are both in existance.

Other potential sources of information are the Library at Lincoln Center and the Avery library at Columbia University. Architectural magazines of the time: Architectural Forum and Architectural Record. If you can gain access to the Rockefeller archive, they may help. Nelson Rockefeller was the brother actively involved with the two theatres.

Edward Durrell Stone’s archive at the University of Arkansas (I believe) may have some information since he was actively involved in the interior design, not the exterior as some have claimed.

RichDesign on March 11, 2009 at 6:51 pm

I’m doing a research project about a theater at a small college in the south which has the stage lifts and turn table from the Center Theater.

this site has been great reading! thank you all!

Someone wrote above (a few years ago) that they had the blue prints. I would love to see them! Can you contact me if you still read this?

Does anyone else know of any pictures of the lifts in action? Or know who made the lifts? or know anything else that might be useful to me?

CharlesO321 on May 24, 2008 at 8:41 pm

My mother and I drove from our home in Maine to New York to meet her brother, a Music Professor at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey, who was returning to the USA on sabattical leave. Before returning to Maine he and we attended a performance at the Center Theatre of “The Great Waltz” on 10 September 1935. Recently, in a long-forgotten file, I came across my like-new copy of the Playbill for that performance. I cannot but wonder if it may be a “collector’s item” worthy of hanging onto or, at least, passing on to our grand daughter. Any thoughts?
In the years since I have met many a New Yorker but have yet to meet even one who was aware that such a threatre ever existed.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 1, 2008 at 8:48 am

A vintage postcard of the Grand Foyer, Center Theatre. Photographed possibly at opening in 1932:

LuisV on February 25, 2008 at 8:23 am

I agree with Warren if for no other reason that if Edward Durell Stone had actually designed these two spectacular theaters we would have seen him commissioned to design others around the country and, alas, he was not. This leads me too believe that he did not actually design these theaters, but instead was one of many contributors of which he was the most well known.

RCMH on February 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm

According to Daniel’s Okrent’s Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Edward Durrell Stone was the architect of the theaters.

When I visited the Archives Office at Rockefeller Center, I saw many photos of the theaters with his name as the architect.

LuisV on February 23, 2008 at 11:32 am

I’m also very sorry that I never got to see this theater. It appears from the photos posted on this thread that this truly was a spectacular theater. I love that chandelier! To think that The Center, The Roxy,The Capitol and Radio City were all within a block of each other is truly incredible.

ERD on February 23, 2008 at 8:45 am

While I always went to Radio City Music Hall as a child, I am sorry that I never went to the Center theatre before it was demolished.
I guess the reason was because it was an NBC studio by that time, and my parents never got any tickets for the shows broadcasted there.

RCMH on February 12, 2008 at 6:28 pm

I heard from a contact at Rockefeller Center that plans are in the works for their 75th anniversary. Hopefully, they will includes this theatre in their celebrations.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 11, 2008 at 11:37 pm

The date given for this photo is April 26, 1964, which is undoubtedly wrong. Not only was the the Center long gone by then, but “The Voice of Firestone” aired on NBC only from September, 1949 until June, 1954.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 11, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Another from the Library of American Broadcasting shows the Center’s big stage when the house was billed as “America’s only ice theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 11, 2008 at 11:17 pm

This photo must date to about 1950, as the marquee announces the imminent arival of NBC television productions in the theatre.

LuisV on January 7, 2008 at 7:04 am

Great thought TomR. I would hope that a celebration of Rock Center’s 75th anniversary would include Radio City as well. I would doubt that the Center Theater would even be mentioned as so few people even know that it ever existed. I only found out about it after discovering the CT website a few years ago.

RCMH on January 6, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Officially, the RKO Roxy/Center & Radio City Music Hall were designed by the Associated Architects. Edward Durrell Stone was the staff architect that was assigned the job of designing the theaters. Unfortunately, he was fired before the theaters opened due to the fact he took an outside job while on the Rockefeller Center payroll.

While Donald Deskey handled the interior decortaion of the Music Hall, Eugene Schoen had that job at the RKO Roxy/Center.

I was really disappointed that the New York Times did not dedicated its entire The City section of the Sunday paper to the 75th anniversary of the both theaters, 2 weeks ago. When the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings turn 75, the entire section was dedictaed to those great New York City icons. Hopefully they are planning on honoring all of Rockefeller Center this year. The RCA/GE Building will be 75 this spring.

HowardBHaas on January 1, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Most websites seem to simply list Stone for RCMH, or at least for the exterior. One site says THREE architecture firms hired Stone! so maybe just leave it as is….

LuisV on January 1, 2008 at 6:51 pm

So, should Hood & Foulinex be added as the archtictural firm under the Radio City site? Currently, Stone is listed as architect, but the firm is listed as unknown.

HowardBHaas on January 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm

LuisV, see November 1, 2004 post above.

LuisV on January 1, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Thanks Howard!

Shouldn’t Donald Desky be added as a joint archtitect to both Radio City and The Center? It is now apparent that Edward Durrell Stone only designed the exterior of both theaters and, though significant, it is the Interiors of these theaters that are the true treasures. Donald Desky should be given his due, if only on this website. Doanld Desky does not appear as an architect for any other theater on this website.

HowardBHaas on January 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm

A quick Internet search indicates Stone designed the exterior of RCMH.

LuisV on January 1, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Thanks Warren. Your point would make sense. That would most likely account for why we don’t see any other theaters designed by Stone. He may, in fact, not have had as big an impact into the design of Radio City and The Center as CT implies with the credit above.

LuisV on January 1, 2008 at 11:25 am

I just noticed that Edward Durrell Stone was the architect of both Radio City and The Center Theater. Radio City, of course, is one of the most beautiful theater palaces ever built and The Center appeared to be a stunner as well. It appears that Stone did not design any other theaters (according to my architect search on CT). I wonder why not. I assume both of these theaters (certainly Radio City) were universally acclaimed by architecture critcs at the time. I would assume that Edward Durrell Stone would have been deluged with theater commission offers. I guess the depression would have greatly dampened the demand, but nonetheless, I still find it surprising that he never designed another theater. Any insights are appreicated.

RCMH on December 29, 2007 at 10:55 am

Today makes the 75th Anniversary of the opening of the RKO Roxy, with THE ANIMAL KINGDOM.

jflundy on July 28, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Here is a higher resolution version of the auditorium photograph Warren linked above from 1932.

kencmcintyre on January 3, 2007 at 6:53 am

Here is a short article about the demolition from Time magazine dated 11/2/53: