Lamb's Theatre Lies Down on Broadway

News   Lamb's Theatre Lies Down on Broadway
The Lamb's building on W. 44th Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway has a long theatre history. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote Oklahoma! there. Members of the Lamb's Club, for which the building was erected, included Fred Astaire, Irving Berlin, Alan J. Lerner and Bert Lahr. More recently, the structure's theatre housed such favorites as A Room of One's Own, Painting Churches and jon & jen.

But that history is coming to an end. On May 31, the address' tenants, which include the Lamb's Theatre Company, received eviction notices from The Manhattan Initiative, the building's management corporation, which works on behalf of the Church of the Nazarene, the New York Times reported.

The evictions were long in coming. Hampshire Hotels Group carved out a deal seven years ago that gives the corporation the option to develop the landmarked structure into a hotel. The building contains 22 single-occupancy rooms and five apartments, as well as two theatres: a 140-seater on the ground floor and—most familiar to theatergoers—a 360-seater on the third floor.

The Lamb's Theatre Company plans to find a new space.

The Church of the Nazarene bought the building in 1973 to use as a mission. The edifice had originally been built in 1904 by architect Stanford White as a home for the Lambs, a theatrical club modeled after a similar one in England. The London club—named after Charles and Mary Lamb, who received many theatre artists into their home—was founded in 1869. The American version came to life in 1874. The club originally met at Delmonico's restaurant on 14th Street, then rented quarters on W. 26th Street. The Lambs is currently situated at 3 W. 51st Street.

Some Lambs trivia: The club steward is called the Shepherd, the membership is referred to as the Flock, and the clubhouse is call the Fold; the club's motto is "Floreant Agni," which means "May the Lambs Flourish;" and in the 1920s, The Lambs entertained a cigar maker from Texas named Bill Finck, Sr., who had such a good time, he created a new cigar and named it after the club (the cigars are still made and sold).

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