108 West 48th StreetNew York, NY
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Architectural Historian, Columbia University
Jeffrey Eric Jenkins
Mark E. Swartz
Built in 1912, The Cort is modeled on the Petit Trianon built by Louis XV in the mid-eighteenth century at Versailles, and the only theater on Broadway whose design can be traced to a specific European precedent.
The interior contains a marble bust of Marie Antoinette—a smaller replica of the original—and a mural over the proscenium of a “Minuet Dance in the Garden of Versailles,” continuing the eighteenth-century theme. It was originally built for Broadway producer John Cort, who came to New York from Chicago and at one time owned the greatest number of legitimate theaters in the United States. In 1927, the theater was taken over the Shubert Organization and many important actresses including Jane Fonda, Grace Kelly, and Katharine Hepburn launched their theatrical careers at the Cort.
Thomas White Lamb was born in Dundee, Scotland, and immigrated to the United States when he was twelve. He studied architecture at Cooper Union.
Lamb initially worked as a building inspector for the City of New York before starting his own architecture firm. He designed his first building in 1903 and was a leading architect of movie theaters in the 1910s and 20s. Lamb designed many theaters for Fox, Lowes, and Keith-Albee and over three hundred theaters worldwide. Known for his lavish and elaborate decorations, he also designed the third Madison Square Garden in 1925 and the Paramount Hotel. After his death, his practice was taken over by John J. McNamara.
Kenn Duncan/© The New York Public Library
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