Union Square Theatre
14th Street / NYC
Theatre photo courtesy of Wayne S. Turney
(Since the poster is advertising "The Two Orphans," this dates the photo as 1904.)
Union Square Theatre (New York) Briefly one of the most famous of New York theatres, it was situated in the middle of the block
between Broadway and Fourth Avenue, on 14th Street, part of the old Morton House. H. M. Sims designed the house for Sheridan
Shook, who opened it in 1871 as a variety theatre. When vaudeville failed to attract, he turned over management in 1872 to A. M.
Palmer, who established a fine stock company there, and for the next eleven years the house vied with those of Daly and Wallack
in prestige. While the other two were best known for comedy, the Union Square enjoyed most of its great successes with the
romantic dramas of the time. Among the theatre's major hits, all French in origin, were Sardou's Agnes, Clara Morris in Camille,
and The Two Orphans. After Palmer moved his company farther north in 1883 the house's reputation began to fade. Destroyed
by fire in 1888, the theatre was rebuilt, but the heart of the theatre district had moved away, and before long the theatre was again
a vaudeville house. It was later home to burlesque and to films. The shell of the old theatre, complete with stagehouse, remains
on the site. (It is not to be confused with an Off Broadway house, also called the Union Square Theatre,
located on 17th Street.)
Albee and Keith opened the Union Square Theatre in New York City, and it was the site of the first American exhibition of the Lumière Cinématographe.
They had obtained the exclusive American rights to the Lumière apparatus and their film output, and the first showing was on June 29, 1896.
They then opened theatres in Philadelphia, and Boston, and then smaller theatres in the East and Midwest of the United States, buying out rival smaller chains.
They signed a contract with Biograph Studios in 1896 which lasted until July 1905 when they switched to Edison Studios as their supplier of motion pictures.
Keith and Albee merged their theatre circuit with Frederick Freeman Proctor in June 1906.
Programs available from this theatre:
Lights O' London (1882)
The Banker's Daughter (1879)
Vaudeville / "New" Union Square / 1894
Vaudeville / Union Square / 1895