Belle of the Basement

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  Recently an unusual responsibility fell to me at work and I found myself in the basement of a large and beautiful apartment building in Manhattan, and at one point was required to wait patiently in the storage room in the sub-basement while a member of the (copious) staff looked for a storage locker which I was required to check to make sure it was empty. I was standing with my colleagues, and admiring how much nicer the storage area of this building was (as is every other aspect of the building) than my humble abode across Central Park on the other side of the island, when the photo above caught my attention.

The photo is very large, about 3/4 life size and there are small inscriptions all across it which appear to be birthday greetings. The photo is just sort of stuck up there, behind a pipe or two holding it up. I snapped a photo with my phone and was interrupted by our escort before I could get a second, better or closer picture. On the way out of the basement, James, a photographer and an equally curious member of my party, asked the building staffer what he knew about the photo. He told us that the building was constructed where a theater had stood for many years, the woman in the photo was an actress who had frequently acted on that stage. Sadly, he didn’t know anything else about her.

Based on the address, I found photos of the theater, The Century, below. It was built in 1909 and torn down in ’30. Evidently doomed from the first, it was apparent that the acoustics were terribly flawed immediately. That combined with a location that was more than a mile north of what was already dubbed the theater district, it is somewhat amazing it last as long as it did.

I am left to wonder – so, she played at the theater and then what? Rented an apartment in the building? Otherwise, why did her photo turn up there? We will probably never know. Nonetheless, she is not forgotten and enjoyed on a daily basis by the staff of the building and those residents who visit their storage in the basement.

1024px-New_Theatre_-_stage_-_The_Architect_1909

Century Theater Stage

1280px-New_Theatre_-_NE_exterior_view_-_The_Architect_1909

Century Theater Exterior

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