246 West 44th StreetNew York, NY
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President and Executive Director, Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization
Architectural Historian, Columbia University
Jeffrey Eric Jenkins
William Ivey Long
For tickets & showtimes,visit www.broadway.org
Justin Van Soest
Originally called the Erlanger Theatre, it was built in 1927 by Theatrical Syndicate owner A. L. Erlanger and was the first theater built by Warren & Wetmore, one of New York’s most prominent architectural firms and designers of Grand Central Station.
Known for their grand and ostentatious buildings, Warren & Wetmore designed a comparatively simple exterior for this theater—a brick facade with an ornate iron loggia. The St. James was one of the largest theaters on Broadway and reflected Warren & Wetmore’s Beaux-Arts training as well as their interest in French-inspired ornamental detail. In addition to the ornate murals and plasterwork covering the interior, the theater also boasted two balconies, making it a very successful house for musicals. Erlanger survived the opening of the theater by only three years. It was purchased by the Astor family, who renamed it the St. James, and was eventually acquired by the Shubert organization in 1941. Oklahoma!,1943’s opening show, was expected to be a flop but it played for six years. In 1957, the Shuberts sold the theater to William L. McKnight, who transferred ownership to his daughter and Jujamcyn Theaters in 1970. It was their first Broadway theater acquisition. The St. James has continued to build on its musical theater history by presenting works such as The King and I, The Pajama Game, Flower Drum Song, Hello Dolly! and The Producers.
Whitney Warren attended Columbia University and finished his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts under the tutelage of Honoré Daumet and Charles Girault. Upon his return to the United States, he worked for McKim, Mead & White.
In 1898, he and Charles D. Wetmore started a firm that became one of the country’s preeminent designers of commercial and public buildings. Warren & Wetmore built several New York City hotels, including the Biltmore, the Vanderbilt, the Commodore, and the Ritz. They are best remembered for their Beaux-Arts design of Grand Central Terminal. Warren was a founder of New York's Society of Beaux-Arts Architects, a French Legion of Honor officer, and a member of the Institut de France.
Photo by Friedman-Abeles © The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images or Courtesy Eileen Darby Images, Inc.
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