Center Theatre

1236 Sixth Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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Showing 51 - 75 of 123 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 2, 2008 at 8:34 am

Edward Durrell Stone was the architect of the 1949 “modernization” of the Victoria Theatre (ex-Gaiety) at 1547 Broadway, according to William Morrison’s “Broadway Theatres: History and Archtecture.”…Morrison also credits the archtiecture of the New Roxy/Center to Reinhart & Hofmeister; Corbett Harrison & MacMurray; and Hood & Foulihoux. One of the flaws of the Cinema Treasurea listing system seems to come from confusion over “Architect” and “Firm.” Architects are not necessarily individuals. They can be firms, as in the case of Rapp & Rapp. I think that the “Firm” category should be eliminated.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 2, 2008 at 7:39 am

Donald Deskey was not involved with the New Roxy/Center. He had more than enough to cope with at RCMH, a commission that he received due to the influence of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, who greatly admired work that he’d done for her and others in their New York residences.

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.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 1, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Stone’s contributions to both theatres, as well as to Rockefeller Center, are controversial. I never saw Stone credited as architect of RCMH and the New Roxy/Center until I joined Cinema Treasures. His name isn’t even mentioned in “The Center: A History and Guide to Rockefeller Center,” written by Walter Karp and published by American Heritage in 1982. David Naylor’s book, “Great American Movie Theaters” does not give an architect for RCMH, but credits Donald Deskey as “designer.” Naylor reports Reinhard & Hofmeister as architect(s) of the New Roxy/Center.

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.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 4, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Stage shows were dropped in May, 1933, when the RKO Roxy was reduced to being one of the RKO circuit’s subsequent-run theatres, according to a report in The New York Times on 5/24/33. Admission prices were also reduced for the new policy, with programs changing twice weekly. “The Silver Chord,” previously shown at Radio City Music Hall, started the new policy, followed by “Song of the Eagle,” a move-over from the Paramount Theatre. The change left RCMH as RKO’s only first-run theatre in New York. RKO had recently dropped the Mayfair, and shifted the Palace to subsequent runs.

jflundy on July 28, 2007 at 12:34 pm

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

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 19, 2007 at 5:40 am

Here’s a rare view of the 49th Street side of the building. The theatre had two verical signs, one at each end of a marquee that wrapped around the corner of Sixth Avenue and 49th Street. Since none of the signage said “New Roxy,” it’s easy to see why the management of the original Roxy succeeded in forcing a name change that would end the confusion:

kencmcintyre on January 3, 2007 at 6:53 am

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

42ndStreetMemories on January 1, 2007 at 10:43 am

The RKO ROXY is the focus of a 1933 animated short OPENING NIGHT. It is part of a pre-code DVD compilation called CARTOON CRAZIES – BANNED & CENSORED which we found in the library. Check it out.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 7, 2006 at 7:42 am

An opening day ad from May, 1933, with a feature-length documentary supported by a stage show. The smaller ad above that shows the program that opened the previous day at RCMH:

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Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 27, 2006 at 9:37 am

In February, 1933, dancer Eleanor Powell performed in the stage show at the New Roxy one week, and then moved to the stage show at Radio City Music Hall the following week:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 27, 2006 at 4:59 am

A photo taken while the New Roxy’s auditorium was nearing completion:

ERD on March 21, 2006 at 10:04 am

When the Center’s (RKO Roxy) first presentation opened it was a success and the(International)Music Hall’s presentation a failure. The Center seemed to become a “sacrificial lamb” to save the Music Hall. When it was demolished in 1954 after having been an NBC TV studio theatre, New York lost a beautiful distinctive architectural edifice.(As it did with so many other buildings.) I realize that this was a “practical” move, but it still saddens me just the same.

moviebear1 on March 21, 2006 at 9:03 am

I am given to beleve that some of the “Your Show of Shows originated from the Center…does anyone know for sure?