Friday, May 15, 2009

☞ REMEMBER: The Lafayette Theater

Once considered Harlem's best known building, the grand Lafayette Theater is barely recognizable these days. The Renaissance-style building had lower levels for stores and office space while the seating was in capacity of around 1,500. The theater, built in 1912, was one of the first all-white establishments to quickly desegregate once the economy tanked and the neighborhoods population grew more diverse. Notably Orson Wells had a wildly successful production of Macbeth (imaginatively set in Haiti) when he was twenty years old. By the Great Depression in the 1930's, the institution no longer played any productions and was later bought by a church in the 1950's. A controversial change happened in 1990 when the church decided to make the outside look more like a church and demolished all the ornamentations and closed all the windows for about half a million. Seeing that most churches are based off of classical details and large windows to let in light, it would seem that the more recent design at the lower photo is more like a 1980's mall than that of a church. Stay classic, folks; it lasts longer. The former Lafayette Theater is at 2227 Adam Clayton P. Boulevard/Seventh Avenue between 131st and 132nd Streets. Take the 2,3 train to 125th Street or 135th Street. Archival photo via NYPL

1 comment:

  1. what a shame to hear that a change like that happened in the 1990's,
    did people not learn after what happened to Penn Station!!!!! It makes me sad to see such bad taste.