Times Square is home to over 30 theaters. These theaters can be awe-inspiring works of art and architecture. As a result, it is sad to think about Times Square’s opulent theaters that have either been nearly gutted or completely demolished. One former theater, which is overlooked by most who visit the area, lies in the middle of that spectrum.
Until recently, the former Loew’s Mayfair Theater was a souvenir store that incorporated some of the theater’s detailing. The store went out of business and so far nothing new has opened in its place. Ideally, its new occupant will restore the interior decorations and display them more prominently, as recently happened with the former I. Miller Shoe Store.
The Columbia Theater opened in 1910 on the northeast corner of 47th Street and Broadway. It was designed by William McElfatrick and operated as a burlesque theater. In 1928, the theater was purchased by Walter Reade. He hired Thomas Lamb, who designed many of New York City’s impressive theaters, to renovate the theater and transform it into a movie theater. Lamb’s renovations created an Art Deco beauty.
In 1976, the theater was subdivided into a triplex, which it remained until 1998, when it permanently closed its doors. According to David Freeland, who wrote about the theater in his book Automats, Taxi Dances, and Vaudeville, theater lovers feared the worst in 2007 when they saw demolition crews carting debris from the theater’s interior. Thankfully, all was not lost. Presented below are some of the remnants from Thomas Lamb’s Mayfair Theater that have survived in situ.