227 West 42nd StreetNew York, NY
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President, The New 42nd Street
William Ivey Long
Managing Director, Roundabout Theatre Company
The American Airlines Theatre, built in 1918, previously the Selwyn Theatre, was designed by architect George Keister and commissioned by the Selywn brothers.
Edgar and Archie Selwyn were theatrical producers who owned several theaters in the United States including three in New York.
Designed in an Italian Renaissance style, the theater included novel features such as separate smoking rooms for men and women as well as a shower and telephone in each dressing room. Unable to sustain itself as a Broadway house, it became a movie theater in the 1930s and eventually fell into disrepair. In 1997 The Roundabout Theatre Company, a nonprofit subscription-based company dedicated to presenting classic revivals, renovated the theater and restored many of its original features, including the ceiling dome and the murals. The theater, renamed for its principal sponsor, reopened in 2000 as the American Airlines Theatre.
Little is known about George Keister. He specialized in designing theaters and was an active architect from the 1880s to 1930s.
He had a brief partnership with Frank E. Wallis and served as secretary of the Architectural League. His known buildings, including the Apollo Theater in Harlem, the Bronx Opera House, the George McAlpin House, and the First Baptist Church, show a wide range of styles. His design of the Selwyn Theatre, now the American Airlines Theatre, was the first to feature separate smoking rooms for men and women.
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