Plaza Theatre

627 Madison Avenue,
New York, NY 10022

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Plaza Theatre

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The originally 991-seat theatre (500 more seats were later added) was built by a German cultural society and first opened in 1908 with stage plays and musical concerts. The single-floor Beaux Arts auditorium was peculiarly designed, with boxed seats at the rear instead of adjacent to the stage.

The New German Theatre was an instant disaster and soon leased to the Shuberts, who turned it into a conventional playhouse under the new name of the 59th Street Plaza Theatre. The Shuberts also failed to achieve success, and in November, 1909, Marcus Loew took over the lease and converted the house to movies as Loew’s Plaza Theatre.

When Loew’s later acquired the larger and more elegant Lexington Opera House about eight blocks away, it sold the Plaza’s lease to Leo Brecher, who operated it as a subsequent-run movie house until it was demolished in 1929 to make way for an office building. Brecher then took the name Plaza for a new and much smaller theatre that he built a block away at 42 East 58th Street.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

caspers42 on January 16, 2005 at 4:07 pm

This is the only other theatre I know of in ny that was designed in the same style as the new amsterdam, art neveau, and by the same architects as well. Is their any available picture of this space and was it at all consistent with the new amsterdam??

bobolink on December 27, 2005 at 8:28 am

I have 5 black and white interior pictures of the “New German Theatre”, ( later formally called, “ The Deutsches-Schauspiel Haus, Irving Place Theatre”) showing the Mucha’s murals, the stage proscenium, the drop curtain and the stencilled wall decor. I’d love to post them on the site, but the picture adding facility is down.
Mucha was assigned to be the Theatre’s artistic director as early as April 24th, 1907( N.Y.Times) Baumfeld’s management decided to present as their premiere presentation the play, “ The Knight of Zalamea” in German, after the original by Calderon. Mucha created all of the designs for the scenery, drop curtain and lighting. These were highly praised in the NY Times review of the play, dated October 2, 1907.
The rest of the interior of the theatre was apparently created between the 1907 presentation and the renamed theatre’s October 1908 gala reopening. The theatre was closed for several months to accomodate the changes in decor and the installation of the huge murals. it was during that “darkening” of the theatre that Mucha created the 5 proscenium paintings, the stencilled wall coverings, the domed ceiling designs and the formal drop curtain. He changed the whole interior into a softly colored Art Nouveau/classical auditorium with superb sight lines.
Because of the Theatre’s failure to capture sufficient audiences, Baumfeld “retired” in October of 1909. The Schubert Management took over the control of the “German” in February, 1910 . It was temporarily called, The Broadway", and was to later be named the “The Plaza”. ( NY Times Feb. 19,1909, This report seems contradicted by a genuine dated programme for the “ Irving Place Theatre,” ( With a gorgeous Mucha cover) that was still advertising German language plays at least as late as the week of November 5th, 1910. The rest of the story.. that it was turned into a movie theatre called “The Plaza” and later torn down, murals and all , seems to be true.
The Mucha family has very clear photos of Mucha painting the murals, and also possess the color studies for the three main Murals. I will contact them to see if they have images of “ the American Girl” and “The German Girl”. roundels that were above the two huge side murals. Best wishes, Robert Haas

bobolink on December 27, 2005 at 9:17 am

please, if someone would send me their e-mail, I ( a computer illiterate who does not know how to blog) would be glad to send them my .JPEG files ( Macintosh/ Photoshop) of what I have on the “ Irving Place- German Theatre Please ? Robert Haas

bobolink on December 27, 2005 at 12:04 pm

In looking at my 1910 Program with the Mucha cover, it seems that the cover design served for two separate theatres. The one program advertises the future “Plaza” with both the name “Deutsches- Schauspiel Haus” and the name of the Irving Place Theatre on its cover. The program that I possess has only the name, “Irving Place Theatre” as well as a diagram in the back for exits to 15th street and to Irving Place. I can see traces of the original dual title that were eliminated from the printing stone beneath the Mucha designed lettering on my copy. So, perhaps one programme design served for two venues, providing some further confusin. My cache of pictures, by the way, is coming soon, through courtesy of Warren’s computer kindness.
Robert Haas

bobolink on December 27, 2005 at 4:09 pm

Thanks to Warren for his generosity with is abilities, and for his computer savvy. Robert.

bobolink on December 28, 2005 at 7:13 am


The association of Mucha with the “German Theatre” started in 1907 at the IRVING PLACE Theatre. He designed the plays listed in my above confused article, and produced the program of the “Deutsches Schauspiel Haus- Irving Place Theatre ” for that venue.
When Baumfeld decided to open the “ New German Theatre” ( also called the “German-American Theatre”) it was in the new and eccentric structure located at Madison Avenue and 59th street. This is the venue with the Mucha murals and color scheme. It was this theatre that was closed after a little over a year, renamed “The Broadway” and then “The Plaza” and later demolished.
The original theatre at Irving Place became simply, “The Irving Place Theatre”, and continued to produce plays in both languages until its closure sometime during WW1.

Most of Mucha’s theatrical experiences were just as convoluted as this one.
I apologise for adding to the confusion. I think ..and hope.. that this is now cleared up. Robert

bobolink on February 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm

send your email to .com I will gladly send the pictures to you

bobolink on February 18, 2009 at 10:27 am

Dear Chuck, Please do contact me..

jay58 on February 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm

The present-day building is 625 Madison Avenue

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