Beautifully RARE Trust Certificate from the New Theatre
issued in 1909. This item has been hand signed and was issued to R. B. Van Cortlandt.
John Jacob Astor
History of the City of New York, 1609-1909:
ROBERT B. VAN CORTLANDT, a prominent banker of New York, was born at Kings Bridge, New York, August 14, 1862, son of Augustus and Charlotte Amelia Bayley (Bunch) Van Cortlandt. He is a direct descendant of Oloff Stevenson van Cortlandt, who came from Holland to New Netherland in 1637, and became one of the most prominent and successful merchants and burghers of New Amsterdam, founding a family of the highest prominence in New Amsterdam and New York throughout its history; and he was a burgomaster under Stuyvesant. His son, Stephanus van Cortlandt, was especially distinguished in the history of the city, being one of the most prominent merchants of the city and an elder in the Dutch Church. When New Amsterdam became New York he was appointed by Governor Richard Nicolls a member of the first Board of Aldermen of the City of New York, June 12, 1665, and in 1667 he was appointed mayor of the City of New York by Governor Andros, and was the first native-born mayor the city ever had. He was again appointed mayor in 1686 and 1687. He was a member of the Provincial Council under Governors Dongan, Sloughter, Fletcher, and the Earl of Bellomont; served as colonel of the Kings County regiment in Indian Wars; served as revenue collector under Bellomont; was a large landed proprietor, and was succeeded in the Council of the province by his son Philip. Other Van Cortlandts have been distinguished in New York from that time to this.
Mr. Robert B. Van Cortlandt was educated in Switzerland and Germany and was graduated from Columbia College in the Class of 1882.
He became identified with the banking business, became a member of the New York Stock Exchange, September 28, 1887, and has been a member of the prominent banking firm of Kean, Van Cortlandt & Company since January 2, 1896. The firm is one of the strongest identified with the banking activities of New York City, and is constantly connected with many of the largest financial operations. Mr. Van Cortlandt is a director of the Lackawanna Steel Company, the Trust Company of America, Toledo Railways and Light Company, Detroit United Railway, Electric Properties Company, Publishers Paper Company, Southern Steel Company of Gadsden, Alabama; Westchester and Bronx Title and Mortgage Company; and is president and director of the Kean, Van Cortlandt & Company Realty Company.
Mr. Van Cortlandt has taken a considerable interest in political affairs, and was nominated as a candidate for presidential elector on the Democratic ticket for Westchester County in 1908. His home is at Guard Hill, Mount Kisco, in Westchester County.
Mr. Van Cortlandt is a member of the Society of Colonial Wars, the St. Nicholas Society, Knickerbocker, Metropolitan, and Union Clubs, Down Town Association, New York Yacht, The Lambs, and City Midday Clubs.
Century Theatre, New York, NY
Central Park West at 62nd Street Also known as: New, Century Opera House Architects: Carrere & Hastings Opened November 8, 1909, with Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra
The Century Theatre opened as the New Theatre which was founded by some of New York's wealthiest men, John Jacob Astor, J.P. Morgan, and Cornelius Vanderbilt among them as a not-for-profit theatre. They built a sumptuous theatre on Central Park West covering the full block from 62nd to 63rd Streets. The New Theatre was beset by problems from the start including bad acoustics. By the end of the second season the New Theatre lost $400,000. The founders left, the name was changed to Century and was leased to Charles Dillingham and Florenz Ziegfeld. The Century housed opera, ballet and shows like Victor Herbert and Irving Berlin's The Century Girl (1916), and Irving Berlin's World War I soldier revue Yip Yip Yaphank (1918). In 1920 the Shuberts bought the theatre. The Century hosted many shows that transferred from other theatres, revivals and visiting companies. In 1923 Max Reinhardt's spectacular production of The Miracle opened. On December 15,1928 the curtain came down for the last time on the musical Just a Minute and the Century was torn down to be replaced by the Century Apartments.
THE FOUNDERS OF THE NEW THEATRE
John Jacob Astor
George F. Baker
Edmund L. Baylies
CORTLANDT FlELD BlSHOP
Frederick G. Bourne
Alexander S. Cochran
Paul D. Cravath
William B. Osgood Field
Henry Clay Frick
Elbert H. Gary
George J. Gould
Archer M. Huntington
James Hazen Hyde
Arthur C. James
Otto H. Kahn
W. De Lancey Kountze
Clarence H. Mackay
J. Pierpont Morgan
Hamilton Mck. Twombly
Robert B. Van Cortlandt
William K. Vanderbilt
Harry Payne Whitney
M. Orme Wilson
Henry Rogers Winthrop
William K. Vanderbilt
Vice Presidents Clarence H. Mackay William B. Osgood Field
Treasurer Otto H. Kahn
Secretary Henry Rogers Winthrop
Winthrop Ames, Director
Lee Shubert, Business Director
John Corbin, Literary Director
The Century Theatre, originally the New Theatre, was a theater located at 62nd Street and Central Park West in New York City. Opened on November 6, 1909, it was noted for its fine architecture but due to poor acoustics and an inconvenient location it was financially unsuccessful. The theater was demolished in 1931 and replaced by the Century Apartments building.
The New Theatre was once called "New York's most spectacularly unsuccessful theater" in the WPA Guide to New York City. Envisioned in 1906 by Heinrich Conried, a director of the Metropolitan Opera House, its construction was an attempt to establish a great theatre at New York free of commercialism, one that, broadly speaking, would resemble the Comédie Française of Paris. Thirty founders each subscribed $35,000 at the start, and a building designed to be the permanent home of a repertory company was constructed on Central Park West on the Upper West Side at a cost of three million dollars. Architecturally, it was one of the handsomest structures in the city, designed by the prominent Beaux-Arts architectural firm Carrère and Hastings.
With Winthrop Ames as the only director, the New Theatre Company occupied the building for only two seasons, 1909–10 and 1910–11. Capable of seating 2,300 persons, the New Theatre was opened on November 6, 1909, with impressive ceremonies and apparently under the most favoring auspices, but a serious defect in the acoustics became apparent at once and this was only partly remedied by the installation of a sound-deflecting bell. Several Shakespearean plays were given, by far the most notable presentation being that of The Winter's Tale. On the whole the company did its best ensemble work in some of the modern plays of that time, like Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird and Sister Beatrice, Galsworthy's Strife, and Edward Sheldon's The Nigger starring Annie Russell. A poetic drama of distinction was Josephine Preston Peabody's The Piper. From Europe in 1912 came Judith Gautier and Pierre Loti, producers and supervisors of The Daughter of Heaven. In most cases the stage settings were of very high quality.
"Not long ago an institution which was expected to benefit the Stage and the Public went down in miserable failure, in the collapse of the New Theatre. The Directors of that institution provided 'practically unlimited capital' for the venture, — an aid which Lester Wallack, for one, never had and never dreamed of having. The observer of to-day was able to see at first hand exactly what kind of theatrical company could be formed after a long absence of stock-companies; half a million dollars was lost in the effort, and persons of experience, knowledge, and taste have had an opportunity to see what the much-vaunted 'commercialism' has really done for the American Stage, and how necessary it is that other forces should control it." William Winter, The Wallet of Time. Moffat, Yard and Company, New York 1913, vol. 1, p. 36.
The building was located a mile above the Theater District, and it was exceedingly expensive to maintain. Financially, the venture proved to be a boondoggle. At the end of the second season, it was found to be impracticable to plan for a third. The building was leased to other theatre managers, who changed the name to the Century Theatre (1911), the Century Opera House (1913), the Century once more (1915), with Florenz Ziegfeld as manager.
In 1917, producers Florenz Ziegfeld and Charles Dillingham opened the roof garden as a nightclub and named it the Cocoanut Grove, based on the success of a similar venue, Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
It was of no use. The "Shrine of Snobbism" as a populist New York paper dubbed it (WPA Guide) was demolished and the Art Deco Century Apartments, designed by the office of Irwin S. Chanin, rose on the site in 1931.
As the result of a competition among leading American architects, the building of the theatre was awarded to the firm of Carrere & Hastings. The New Theatre differs radically in type from other English and American playhouses. Not only stage and auditorium but all features conducive to the mission of the institution and the convenience of the public— foyer, circulation, grand staircases, retiring- and cloak-rooms, library, buffet, elevators, and roofgarden—are regarded as members of a vast architectural unit.
The conformation of the auditorium is novel. Instead of making this narrow and deep, as in the state and court theatres of the Continent, Messrs. Carrere & Hastings followed the precedent of the Wagner Theater at Bayreuth, making it narrow and broad like an outspread fan. The New Theatre is, however, much smaller than the Bayreuth OperaHouse, the depth of the orchestra being no greater than the depth of the ordinary Broadway theatre, as, for example, the Empire Theatre.
The general color scheme aims at quiet and dignified simplicity and a due regard for tradition, rather than at striking originality. The general effect is ash-gray and gold. The relief, which has been studied to interpret the architectural design, is sometimes gray on a gold background and sometimes gold on a gray background.
The proscenium is framed in a wide border of Connemara marble, and the curtain is made of red velvet embroidered in colors and gold. The boxes and foyer stalls are lined with this same red velvet, while the balustrades in front of the first tier of boxes are elevated on a Breche violet marble base, with marble dies and capping to the balustrades, the balustrades themselves being of gold bronze. The decoration is the work of James Wall Finn.
Much study has been given to the question of circulation, with the result that, by means of the sixtyeight exits, the most crowded auditorium can be emptied into the streets in three minutes. On each of the three sides is a large vestibule connecting with the main circulation within, and with the foyer. At each of the corners in front is a circular monumental staircase rising the entire height of the building, and connecting both the main circulation and the foyerwith the street. Each staircase is double, as are those at Chambord and Blois, though the general treatment and detail are different. One of each pair of staircases leads to the boxes, the other to the gallery. The foyer is an integral part of the circulation, the very center of the social life of the audience, and not, as in so many of the great theatres of the Continent, a cold and forbidding cul-de-sac which few people ever see.
The exterior is of a beautiful clear gray Indiana limestone. The architecture is classical in detail and proportions, and follows the precedent of the Italian Renaissance, suggesting the Sansovino Library in the Piazza di San Marco, Venice. The facade consists of a high base, containing the entrances, and a twostory colonnade crowned by a very rich cornice and balustrade. The foyer, which rises through two stories, is accentuated on the main front by large arches extending the full height of the columns. It has been the purpose to make the exterior dignified and yet expressive of the character of a playhouse.
The theatre fronts on Central Park West, occupying a full block of 200 feet in length, from Sixtysecond to Sixty-third Street. It runs back on Sixtysecond Street 225 feet, and 200 feet on Sixty-third Street. Separated by the width of the park from upper Fifth Avenue, it adjoins Columbus Circle, which is already one of the chief traffic centers and is destined to become at no distant time the chief theatric center of the metropolis. Here all the main trolley lines of the city converge; and here also are stations on both Subway and elevated. The theatre is even more accessible from Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey than the theatres of old Broadway, the old "Rialto."
The satisfactory completion of the theatre would have been impossible without the most loyal cooperation on the part of all concerned; and it is pleasant to be able to record at least the names of a few of those whose skill has contributed to the result. Of the staff of Messrs. Carrere & Hastings, Mr. H. C. Ingalls has had charge of the details of construction, and conducted the work with unfailing conscientiousness and ability. Mr. E. Castlebert advised in the technical planning. The engineering problems have been in charge of Mr. Owen Brainard, assisted by Mr. Arthur Falkenau. Messrs. Pattison Bros, and Wolff Bros, were consulted as experts in electrical construction and heating and ventilation, respectively. And especial thanks are due to Messrs. Otto M. Eidlitz & Sons, the builders, who have erected a structure of great complexity, not only with unusual thoroughness, but untiring zeal and unerring capability.
The stage and its equipment are adequate to the unusual needs of a repertoire theatre. Its width is 100 feet between fly-galleries, its height 119 feet to the gridiron, and the depth of the pit 32 feet below the stage level.
The mechanical equipment of this stage is unrivaled to-day—at any rate, in America—and this equipment is due to the inventive genius and engineering skill of Mr. Claude L. Hagen, the theatre's technical director. The features of its mechanism are too technical to admit of brief descriptions but- they include a Drehbiihne, or revolving stage, of new-" design, an improved system of counterweights, and an entirely original system of "sinks" and "bridges." The electric stage switchboard, too—the instrument which controls the play of light upon the scenes—is also a new invention, due to Mr. H. Krantz.
History from Wikipedia, New Theater (New York, N.Y.)1909 and
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