Lafayette Theater

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

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 18, 2013 at 8:51 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.

schmauch
schmauch on January 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

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.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 3, 2011 at 9:25 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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 22, 2011 at 4:46 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.

iatse311
iatse311 on March 20, 2010 at 12:24 am

View link great pic among others halfway down…

and the macbeth opening night pic
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 12, 2008 at 10:36 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!

gloriap
gloriap on September 12, 2008 at 10:02 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 May 3, 2008 at 9:07 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

Kenclarke
Kenclarke on September 18, 2006 at 11:13 am

The Lafayette is significant as the home of the Lafayette Players, the first black professional theater troupe in the country. Organized by Anita Bush, the troupe first performed at the Lafayette on Dec. 27, 1915 in a play titled “Across the Footlights.” The troupe had begun life a month earlier as the Anita Bush Players, performing at the Lincoln Theater, but soon moved to the Lafayette.

The five original members: Bush, Charles Gilpin, Carlotta Freeman, Andrew Bishop and Dooley Wilson (of ‘Casablanca’ fame). All of them went on to long careers in show business.

A favorite note about the players: In January 1916, they performed ‘The Octoroon" in which most of them performed in white face! It must have been an exciting experience for black audiences accustomed to seeing white minstrel performers in black face.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 7, 2006 at 8:08 am

Here is a current (July 2003) view of the former Lafayette Theatre, in Harlem:
http://flickr.com/photos/kencta/142119473/

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 2, 2005 at 6:47 am

Here’s a 1929 view of what might have been the Harlem premiere of “Hallelujah!,” MGM’s first musical with an all-black cast:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/lafayette.jpg

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 15, 2005 at 12:33 pm

The Lafayette Theater is listed in the American Motion Picture Directory 1914-1915. In its early years it was a segregated house that had a seperate seating area for blacks. Listed in Film Daily Yearbook’s 1930-1933 and 1940-1949 as a Negro theatre catering for African American audiences, the seating capacity given varies from 1,245 (presumably for motion pictures, minus the black seating area?) to 2,000 seats as a stage theatre with all seats counted when it was de-segregated.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson played here in 1915. Fats Waller was a regular player on the organ. Other artists who appeared on stage here include Duke Ellington band in 1922, Bessie Smith and Cab Calloway.

The production of “Macbeth” was a black version, directed by Orson Welles for the Federal Theater Program of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), as was a black production of “The Hot Mikado”.