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Featured: New York, NY – Loew’s Canal Street

Picture at article link.

Sometimes a Theater Is way More than Just a Theater

Our good friend and neighbor Linda Jones would like to correct and add to the item we published last month about the old Loew’s Canal Street. She writes:

The facade is not marble, but terra cotta. An interesting thing is that the part that looks like windows is actually shiny black terra cotta. The theater is in the National Register Lower East Side Historic District and would be eligible for tax credits if restored properly. It would certainly be eligible to become a New York City landmark.

I haven’t seen inside, but sometimes the interiors of public buildings get designated, too. While this constrains the owner somewhat, it also taps into a great deal of free expertise from the Landmarks Commission. The architect was Thomas W. Lamb (a noted theater architect).

Linda cites Susan Tunick, an expert on terra-cotta: “Designed in the popular Spanish baroque style, it was one of the first movie palaces to feature the ‘atmospheric’ style in its auditorium. The theater seated 2,270, and music was played on a Wurlitzer organ. The theater has been closed since the 1960s, but the terracotta clad façade remains (somewhat neglected).

There are three very tall arched windows on the front façade above where the marquee would have been. These are faux windows (who would want REAL windows in a movie theater anyway?) which were glazed black and to the casual observer, certainly do look like panes of glass.”

Linda then cites Seward Park resident Marvin Wasserman: “I’m proud to state that this building and a number of oth ers on the Lower East Side were built by my father-in-law, Philip Schnur, and his father, in the ‘twenties. Philip Schnur resided in Seward Park Houses with his wife Irene from 1966 to his death, when he was past 90, around 1995.”

via Grand Street News: Sometimes a Theater Is way More than Just a Theater.

No Comments

  1. Gary Parks

    I never would have guessed that those windows were black terra cotta masquerading as glass! Very clever. I wonder if there are any other theatres with this faux window concept–works by Lamb or others? We’ve long been aware of false windows on theatre facades, but they are of glass, with curtains behind, such as Lamb’s San Francisco Fox had, or similar wondows with an ornamental scheme of mirrors and sculpted moldings, a la Rapp & Rapp’s Michigan in Detroit. Certainly the black terra cotta method saved money, and likely was a smart solution on a constricted section of the real estate.

  2. The Music Box and Ramova in Chicago both use terra cotta in this manner.

  3. Warren G. Harris

    Loew’s Canal was in Spanish baroque style, but not an “atmospheric.” I have photos of the auditorium’s ornamented ceiling as proof, which I will be happy to send to anyone contacting me privately at the address indicated. .

    • josh

      hi warren, would love to see pictures of the auditorium, please email to craw333@hotmail.com

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