Historic theaters


Well, sort of.

As the dog days of August drag on, we’re all in need of a feel good story. Into the breach steps the Museum of London. As widely reported, a team of archaeologists from the Museum is excavating the site of an open air playhouse (reputedly the theatre in which Shakespeare’s first plays were performed) in the Shoreditch area of London and making some fantastic discoveries. You can read the Museum’s official press release here.

Image credit: The Shakespeare monument in Central Park, New York (From Harper’s Weekly, May 7, 1864). NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID #800893

OK, I’m taking liberties here. The Biltmore Garage immortalized in Frank Loesser’s The Oldest Established had nothing to do with the Biltmore Theatre, but I can’t help hearing the song in my head whenever that theatre is mentioned.

Well, soon we probably won’t be hearing the name, “Biltmore Theatre” being spoken of all that often. Today it was announced that the historic venue (which has undergone several dramatic transformations and is currently the home of the Manhattan Theatre Club) would be renamed the Samuel J. Friedman Theater in honor of the legendary press agent (courtesy of a large donation from The Dr. Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman Foundation).

We’re somewhat ambivalent about the mania for renaming theatres (and other historic structures). But who knows, if the trend continues, the next thing you know they could be renaming theatres after archivists.

Image credit: Charles Dalton as Darius III and Jessie Royce Landis as Statira in the production, Young Alexander (1929, Biltmore Theatre); NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID #1158019

In response to community pressure, NYU has slightly revised its plans regarding the demolition of the historic theater. For those of you wishing to express your opinions about the revised plan, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation urges you to attend the public hearing scheduled for this Wednesday, May 28th at 6:30 PM at NYU Law School, Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South.

As reported in today’s New York Times, much anger has been aroused over New York University‘s plans to raze (and rebuild) the historic building. Maybe this “dialogue” will evolve into a full blown “conversation” at some point. In the meantime, if you’re interested in voicing your particular concerns, Matt Windman’s blog offers some tips.

Image credit: New York Public Library Digital Gallery Image ID #482856