Colonial Theatre (New York City)

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The Colonial Theatre in New York City was at Broadway and 62nd Street on the Upper West Side, Manhattan.[1] Originally named the Colonial Music Hall, it was opened in 1905 by Fred Thompson and Elmer Dundy.[2] Designed by George Keister, the theater had a seating capacity of 1,293.[2]

Thompson and Dundy operated the theater for only a few weeks before selling it to Percy G. Williams, who changed the name to Colonial Theatre. It functioned exclusively as a vaudeville house during Williams' stewardship.[2] In 1912, under the management of B.F. Keith, the name was changed to Keith's Colonial Theatre. Five years later the theater was under the management of E.F. Albee, who renamed it the New Colonial Theatre.[2]

During the early 1920s, the New Colonial Theatre was a venue for many African-American musical revues such as Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle's show Chocolate Dandies and James P. Johnson's Runnin' Wild. The latter show premiered at the theater on October 29, 1923, and was instrumental in making an international dance craze of the Charleston.[1]

From 1925 to 1932, the theater was named Hampden's Theatre, and under the management of actor Walter Hampden it presented Shakespearian fare and classic drama. In 1932, as the RKO Colonial Theatre, it became a movie house. After 1951 the theater was owned by NBC who used it to develop color television equipment (the TK-40 color television camera) and studio techniques, and functioned as a television studio until 1971.[2] Rebekah Harkness subsequently purchased the theater, renovated it, and reopened it in 1974 as the Harkness Theatre. After presenting a sporadic schedule of ballet and legitimate theater, it closed in 1977,[2] and the building was razed later that year.[3]


  1. ^ a b Aberjhani, and Sandra L. West. 2003. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Facts On File, Inc. ISBN 1438130171. P. 290
  2. ^ a b c d e f Krefft, Bryan. "Colonial Theatre", Cinema Treasures. Web. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  3. ^ "Demolished Broadway: Theatres",, Retrieved October 25, 2014.

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Coordinates: 40°46′14″N 73°58′55″W / 40.770562°N 73.981913°W / 40.770562; -73.981913