Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Theater History & Dramatic Arts > 242. Thomas W. Lamb

242.  Thomas W. Lamb (1871-1942).  Drawing for a proposed new lobby, Audubon Ballroom, New York City. Charcoal and pastel on tracing paper (48.2 x 59.7 cm.), 1930. Avery Library, Drawings and Archives, Thomas W. Lamb Collection

A Scotsman who emigrated to Canada and then New York, Lamb became one of the leading theater designers in the early 20th century. He designed or renovated theaters for several chains, including Loew's, Fox, and Poli, at sites in New York and around the world. For Manhattan, the archive contains a large number of projects or renovations in Manhattan alone, including the old Madison Square Garden at Eighth Avenue and Fiftieth St., and the Eltinge, among others. There are theaters for Calcutta, London, Cairo, Toronto, and Johannesburg. This drawing is part of a set of proposals for the renovation of the Audubon Ballroom, a theater Lamb had designed in 1912 and later became famous as the site of the assassination of Malcolm X. The building was redeveloped in 1995 as the Audubon Business and Technology Center by Columbia. Due to the instability of the abandoned structure, only the fa├žade was salvaged and reinstalled.

The collection, containing over 20,000 drawings, was donated by John McNamara in 1982. McNamara, also a theater architect, had been Lamb's associate and then successor. At the time of the donation, McNamara was at work preparing the Winter Garden Theater for a new production called "Cats."

Gift of John McNamara, 1982

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