Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interior view of the Claremont Theater

This is a rare find. It is the interior of the Claremont Theater on Broadway at 135th street.  I have talked about this theater before but I found this picture recently and had to share.  This theater opened in 1914, one of the first built just for the exhibition of motion pictures (no stage but maybe an orchestra however more likely just an organ), with a capacity of 1350 all on one floor.  What was more significant about this space was that it was designed by Gaetan Ajello, the Sicilian born master architect of too many buildings on the Upper Westside.  The prodigy from Italy, who worked primarily for the Paterno Brothers, designed only one theater - and this was it.  Not to sound catty but it does remind me of the lobby of the building I grew up in, which is an Ajello design built by the Paterno Brothers, except a great deal longer and with more chairs. 

The white terra cotta part of the the structure also contained a stores (on the left heading east along 135h Street and on the right running south along Broadway. The theater was on a north south orientation, if you were in the theater facing the screen you were facing south.  The second floor contained a dance hall and restaurant.  The theater closed in 1933 and became a car showroom. The exterior structure is intact and in 2006 it was landmarked by the City of New York.

This is detail from the pediment at the center of the facade above the entrance.  There is no symbolism here, it is a modern (1914 modern) movie camera. Next time you pass the south east corner of 135th street and Broadway, look up.

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