Little Carnegie Theatre

146 W. 57th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Little Carnegie Theatre, New York, NY in 1928 - Auditorium

Opened in 1928, the Little Carnegie Playhouse was for many decades one of the premiere art houses in Manhattan, along with the Paris Theatre, Beekman Theatre, Sutton Theatre, Plaza Theatre, Fine Arts Theatre and Baronet Theatre. It was opened in 1928 and designed in a ‘modern’ style by architect Wolfgang Hoffman. Located on W. 57th Street, adjacent to Carnegie Hall and the Russian Tea Room. It had a very sizable lobby and waiting area for a theatre its size, and the plush seats and eveything about the theatre spelled Class…with a capital ‘C’.

It was remodeled in 1952 to the plans of architect John J. McNamara in a Streamline Moderne style. All seating was on a single sloping floor. The Little Carnegie Theatre was closed in April 1982. It is sorely missed.

It is not to be confused with the Carnegie Hall Cinema, which was around the corner on 7th Avenue.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 67 comments)

marcystarnes on October 13, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Most of the films that Played at The Little Carnegie Theater in the seventies and eighties, were a big sucess: Annie Hall, Tess, Tommy, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I would like to see a photo.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 31, 2012 at 9:06 am

There are probably few people who remember the original 1928 look of the Little Carnegie Playhouse. It was a strikingly modern design, most likely inspired, at least in part, by the work of the German Bauhaus. Here are two photos from the December 1, 1928, issue of Motion Picture News showing the auditorium and lounge.

I don’t know how much of the original design was lost in the early 1940s remodeling by Thomas Lamb’s office, but whatever might have remained after that was wiped out in the gut renovation designed by John McNamara that was undertaken in 1952. So far I’ve been unable to discover who the theater’s original architect was.

nyer13 on October 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I worked at the Little Carnegie from ‘71 to '77 (usher/doorman). Among other notables – We played new Woody Allen films & his agents/producers had offices further east on the block. We did a screening for WNEW-FM of “Catch My Soul” – a rock Othello with Iago played by the actor who later played the colonel chasing “The A Team.” We also did screenings for Richard Brown’s film appreciation course which was then associated with The New School. As an unofficial perk I got to attend the course & met Peter Yates of “Robbery” “Bullitt” chase fame, a very nice fellow whose UK movie history is interesting as there are a few precursors to both Robbery & Bullitt in his earlier & often non-directorial work.

& John & Yoko did come in one time when I was working. John Wolgamot was the long-term mgr when I was at the theater.

nyer13 on October 7, 2013 at 4:32 pm

In the ‘70s we usually sold out @ approx. 480 seats. We also day dated with either the Baronet or Coronet depending on the movie.

The most disappointed audiences I saw were for “La Grande Bouffe.”

marcystarnes on December 8, 2014 at 2:34 am

I worked there for many years, one of my favorite jobs. It was an exciting place where I got to meet and speak to my favorite movie stars; Jodie Foster, Anthony Perkins, etc. Those were the days, with blockbuster movies that sold out in an hour and a half! Management staff was steady with a mature manager staff. John Crisman was the nicest manager we had. It was during this time the home company was the Walter Reade Organization, a name that confused customers as they associated it with the hospital. It was run strictly as a business for them. Walter Reade Organization which owned roughly eight theaters within the theater circuit, never once closed early for Christmas or even Thanksgiving. After they closed their doors, I worked at nearby location. Over the years, I worked within the circuit at The New Yorker, the Ziegfield, the Waverly and the Festival. I was offered two jobs after they closed. What I enjoyed most about the job was the wonderful friendships I made that endured for years, that made it a great job.

simonlucas on June 4, 2015 at 4:13 pm

@ nyer13

It’s great to hear from someone who worked there. Can you tell us any more about John Wolgamot, please?

dallasmovietheaters on February 7, 2016 at 9:03 am

Micahel Mindlin’s fledgling circuit of theaters were anti-palace and frowned upon Hollywood mainstream fare. Starting a small cinema, art movement, Mindlin’s most important stake in the ground was the Carnegie “Junior”. Though Mindlin had theaters in Brooklyn, Rochester and Buffalo, the Carnegie was the most high profile.

The modernity of the original Carnegie “junior” upon opening in 1928 was reflected in the architecture of Wolfgang Hoffman, decoration of Pola Hoffman, and staging and design from Beatrice D. Mindlin, the Carnegie was a place not only to watch a film but to dance, play bridge, chess and ping pong, and for some period have a cocktail.

But within a year, new controlling operators sacked Mindlin who also would exit his other locations. While the art cinema movement would eventually catch on, Mindlin’s control was no longer in evidence.

robboehm on June 12, 2016 at 10:02 am

If your an avid follower of this site you will find countless situations where policy has not been observed. Generally, however, all the options are listed so regardless of how you do the look up you’ll get what you want.

michaelkaplan on November 4, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Reading about the New York premiere of Sergei Eisenstein’s “October: Ten Days That Shook the World,” Alfred Barr Jr. wrote in The Arts (Volume 13-14, p. 316) that the film opened at the Little Carnegie on November 2, 1928. Barr doesn’t mention whether there was a musical accompaniment to “Ten Days” – one of the last silent films – but one has to assume there was.

bigjoe59 on February 27, 2018 at 1:51 pm


the last time I can remember seeing a film here
was the 40th anniversary re-issue of Disney’s

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