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Architectural Historian, Columbia University
Jeffrey Eric Jenkins
Chairman, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
The Lyceum and the New Amsterdam are the oldest theaters on Broadway; the Lyceum, built in 1903, has the further distinction of being the oldest continually operating theater and the first to obtain landmark status.
The architects Herts & Tallant created innovative cantilevered balconies that obviated the need for posts or other structural encumbrances. They were also interested in the auditorium’s lighting effects and installed bare bulbs throughout the interior plasterwork rather than a chandelier, which gives the interior a golden glow. The lobby is decorated with murals by James Wall Finn that celebrate Sarah Siddons and David Garrick, stars of eighteenth-century theater in the United Kingdom.
The theater was built by Daniel Frohman, a Broadway pioneer and one of the first impresarios to move a theater north to the Times Square area. He partnered with his brother Charles on many productions until Charles’s drowning on the Lusitania in 1915. Frohman maintained an apartment above the theater; a small door on the north wall of the dining room provided a view of the stage below. Today the apartment houses the Shubert archives.
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Henry B. Herts was known as a technical innovator and inventive designer. Born in New York, he was the son of Henry B. Herts of the Herts Brothers firm of decorators. He originally went to City College but left before graduation to work in the office of architect Bruce Price. Herts eventually graduated from Columbia University in 1893 then traveled to Europe to study architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts and the universities of Rome and Heidelberg.
Herts is best known for his partnership with Hugh Tallant. Although, Herts & Tallant were well-known theater architects, the partnership dissolved in 1912, and Herts continued designing with his assistant Herbert J. Krapp and on his own. Herts pioneered the use of steel cantilevers to eliminate the problem of blocked sightlines from pillars supporting the balcony. He also served as architect for the Playground Commission of New York City and helped improve fire codes.
Born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 1869, Hugh Tallant received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Harvard University.
He attended the École des Beaux-Arts on Harvard's Kirkland Fellowship, where he won the 1896 Grande Médaille d'Honneur for graduating first in the class, and met his future partner, Henry B. Herts. They opened offices in Paris and New York in 1900. Tallant focused on the architecture and decorative design of their projects. Herts & Tallant are also known for the design of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. After the partnership dissolved in 1911, Tallant became a member of Lord, Hewlett & Tallant until 1916. He served as an army captain in World War I and worked on his own after the war, retiring to Savannah in the 1930s.
m of The City of New York
© Joan Marcus
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