Sunday, January 23, 2005


(Former) HAMILTON THEATER, 3560-3568 Broadway (a.k.a. 559-561 West 146th Street), Manhattan. Built 1912-13; Architect Thomas W. Lamb. Terra cotta supplied by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company.

Landmarks Preservation Commission. Designated February 8, 2000; LP-2052


Constructed in 1912-13 as a vaudeville house during one of New York's theater building booms, the Hamilton Theater is located in the Hamilton Heights area of Manhattan.

Designed by the great theater architect, Thomas W. Lamb, the building is one of his significant pre-World War I theaters in New York City. Lamb also designed the Regent and Hollywood Theaters, both designated New York City Landmarks.

The Hamilton's developers, B.S. Moss and Solomon Brill, were major builders and operators of vaudeville houses and movie theaters in the New York City area. At the time, vaudeville was the most popular form of theater in the United States.

The Hamilton's two neo-Renaissance style facades, facing Broadway and West 146th Street, are dominated by large, round arched windows with centered oculi.

The upper stories feature cast-iron and terra-cotta details including caryatids, brackets, and Corinthian engaged columns.

In the 1920s, movies eclipsed vaudeville in popularity; in 1928, the Hamilton was sold to the newly-created Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO) Radio Pictures, Inc., which converted it to one of the first movie theaters to show "talking pictures" in New York City.

The theater's final screening took place in 1958; afterwards, it was used as a sports arena, a discotheque, and a church.

The Hamilton Theater's imposing terra-cotta facade is a reminder of the prominent place held by vaudeville houses and movie theaters in New York City's diverse, early twentieth-century neighborhoods, and is a tribute to its talented architect, Thomas W. Lamb.

No comments: