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The seventh theater to bear the name Broadway Theatre (the first was, ironically, opened in 1837 on Canal Street!), this playhouse was built in 1888 at Broadway and 41st Street for producers Frank Sanger and T. Henry French. It sat around 1,700, and was decorated in a mix of Baroque Renaissance and Moorish styles, inspired by the popular Casino Theatre which opened a few years earlier at Broadway and 39th.
The Broadway Theatre was designed by the firm of McElfatrick and Sons, whose later Broadway efforts included such famous houses as the Empire Theatre, Hammerstein’s Olympia Theatre and the Hudson Theatre.
The theater featured a somewhat generic facade on Broadway, in a five-story red brick office building with little indication of was inside, until a vertical marquee was added in the 1910’s. The elegantly decorated auditorium, with its large proscenium arch, six sets of boxes and twin balconies, featured such touches as antique copper chandeliers, gilded plasterwork around the proscenium, the box and balcony fronts and murals on the ceiling and balcony walls.
After a string of owners during its first decade or so in operation, and many successful runs (including the first stage version of “Little Lord Fauntleroy”, in 1889, and the final stage appearance in New York of famed actor Edwin Booth in 1891), the Broadway Theatre was acquired by the Shuberts in 1909. They ran the theater for several years before Marcus Loew took over the aging showplace as a silent movie house. In 1919, the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit began to lease the Broadway Theatre, while continuing to present motion pictures, as well.
However, by the late-1920’s, competition from a number of newer and far larger movie houses nearby spelled the end for the Broadway Theatre, and in 1929, the theater was demolished.
This Broadway Theatre should not be confused with the current theater of the same name at Broadway and 53rd, originally the Colony Theatre, but renamed Broadway Theatre in 1930.
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