Lafayette Theater

2227 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard,
New York, NY 10027

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Lafayette Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Lafayette Theater opened as a legitimate theater which also presented vaudeville. It stood on Seventh Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard) at 132nd Street in Harlem. It was one of the first theaters in New York City to de-segregate and allow African-American theatergoers to sit in orchestra seats instead of only in the balcony. Later, like so many other former live theaters, the Lafayette Theater switched to movies.

Around 1950 the Lafayette Theater was converted to a church. It became home to the Williams CME (Christian Methodist Episcopal) church. By April 2013, the church had moved out and the building was in the process of being demolished.

Contributed by Bryan & Ken

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 3, 2008 at 6:07 am

Here’s a 1930 ad when the Lafayette called itself “America’s Leading Colored Theatre.” Programs changed weekly, and consisted of a stage revue and movie. The next screen attraction would feature Stepin Fetchit, “Greatest Colored Star”:
View link

gloriap
gloriap on September 12, 2008 at 7:02 am

Looking for a copy of the Play Bill from the Lafayette Theater’s production of “Haiti” My late sister (Sugar Pie Nowlin) (nee:Beatrice Lewis) was in the chorus and took me to see the show.
We are in the process of doing a family history and this would be a treasured addition.
madam gary

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 12, 2008 at 7:36 am

You should try the NYPL’s Schomburg Center in Harlem and the Billy Rose Theatre Collection at Lincoln Center. If neither have it, you might be out of luck. Happy hunting!

iatse311
iatse311 on March 19, 2010 at 9:24 pm

View link great pic among others halfway down…

and the macbeth opening night pic
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 22, 2011 at 2:46 am

According to James Trager’s book “The New York Chronology” the Lafayette Theater opened in November, 1912. It was designed by architect Victor Hugo Koehler. Only white patrons were admitted to the orchestra floor until August of 1913, when the Lafayette became the first New York City theater to integrate.

Incidentally, the Office for Metropolitan History’s Manhattan Database lists three theaters designed by Koehler that I’ve been unable to track down. They are: a 1902 project for a four story theater and loft building, 100x100, at the southeast corner of Grand and Chrystie; a 1913 two story movie theater, 41x90, at 11-13 W. 116th Street; and a one story movie theater, also 41x90, at 385-387 Third Avenue. Maybe somebody familiar with Manhattan will be able to identify these theaters.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 3, 2011 at 6:25 am

Joe, The Grand Street theatre on Chrystie and Grand was operating in 1923. I have not entered it to CT as I can find nothing else about it.

The Grant/Jewel at 11 West 116th Street and the Argus/Regent at 385 Third Avenue are already identified as Koehler sites.

schmauch
schmauch on January 30, 2013 at 11:23 am

This theatre/church is being demolished as i write this, Wednesday afternoon, January 30, 2013. It is possible that the facade facing 7th Ave is being preserved. Don’t know.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

AlAlvarez: I found another reference to the Grand Street Theater, this in Ruth Crosby Dimmick‚Äôs 1913 book Our Theatres To-day and Yesterday. It says that the house opened on February 4, 1903, as a Yiddish theater. It was leased to Bedford Theatrical Company in December, 1909, and as of 1913 was playing “…Marcus Loew attractions.” I don’t know if that means vaudeville only or vaudeville and pictures. Most of Loew’s early houses in New York appear to have presented both.

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