National Theatre & Roosevelt Theatre

111 - 117 E. Houston Street,
New York, NY 10002

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Built as a twin ‘piggy-back’ theatre , it was planned by Louis Minsky to be called the Unique Theatre and be used for burlesque. However when built (to the designs of noted theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb) it opened on 6th May 1913 as the National Theatre (on the lower level seating 1,900) which was leased to Thomasefsky & Adler for use as a Yiddish theatre. The upper theatre had a seating capacity of 963 and was named the Crown Theatre.

Programming varied from Yiddish stage shows to burlesque and it ran Russian films from 1936 to 1939 when the Crown Theatre was re-named Roosevelt Theatre.

The building was closed in 1941 and was later reopened as two movie theatres known as the National Theatre (seating 1,800) and Roosevelt Theatre (seating 963). These closed in 1951 and lay empty until they were demolished in 1959 for a parking lot.

Contributed by Al Alvarez, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

frankie
frankie on October 19, 2006 at 5:40 am

I believe the National Winter Garden is documented in the wonderful novel (and later film) “The Night They Raided Minsky’s.”

Cosmopolite
Cosmopolite on January 9, 2008 at 10:06 pm

PBS is airing “Jews in America” this month. About an hour and forty minutes into Part One, there are several shots of the eight-story building with separate marquees for the National and Roosevelt.

oodygdin
oodygdin on February 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Here’s a link to the NYPL digital collection with a photo of the building. There are other photos of the rest of the block too. Also, there is a sign just below the eighth floor that reads Manhattan something-or-the-other. Anyone know what this might have been? It is unreadable even in a blow-up of the photo.
View link

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 10, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Great shot, Oodygdin. It looks like MANHATTAN SCHOOL.

oodygdin
oodygdin on February 10, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Thanks and I think you’re right – it could very well be that. I can’t find and cross reference to that. Maybe someone else has heard of this.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm

I found a New School for Social Research operating a drama workshop at the rooftop theatre at this address from 1940-1950 at a yearly cost of $9000. They ran another workshop at the President Theatre on 48th street. (NYT)

Astyanax
Astyanax on February 12, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Terrific photo of the building, vastly different from the present day view of Whole Foods/Avalon Chrystie. Curious that the site remained vacant for several decades, although the local Community Board was seeking a development plan that tied in the northern side of Houston St., and offered community recreation, hence the University Settlement Community Center and the YMCA. The basement level of the site is up against the noisy vibrations from the F & V train subway tracks. Curious as to whether this was evident when the theaters were in operation.

priscianusjr
priscianusjr on April 23, 2009 at 8:09 am

Note that the Independent subway line on East Houston Street was constructed only in the early 1930s. It began operation on September 10, 1932.
View link)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 6, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Ads for the Roosevelt and RKO Apollo can be seen in this 1935 photo:
http://tinyurl.com/c4aepu

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Great Shot love the clothslines.

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