Academy of Music

126 East 14th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues
New York, N.Y. 10003

Organ Specifications:
126 East 14th Street (1926-1997)
• III/15 "Style 260 Special" Wurlitzer, Op. 1406 (1926)
125 East 14th Street at Irving Place (1854-burned 1866; reb. 1868-1926)
III/15 M.P. Möller, Op. 3801 (1924)
III/38 M.P. Möller, Op. 1792 (1915)


Anon. 1870 stereoview of Academy of Music - New York City  
Stereoview, anon. 1870  

14th Street bewteen 3rd Avenue and Irving Place
Estimated seating capacity: 1279

Horace Greeley disliked The Academy of Music so much, he asked how much it would cost to have it burned, and said "If the price is not unreasonable, have it done and send me the bill."

14th Street between 3rd Avenue and Irving Place
Built:
1854
Demolished: 1926
History: One of New York's first world-class venues for theatre and opera, a fire here in 1866 left a ballet troupe stranded – they wound up in the historic Niblo's Garden production of The Black Crook. The Academy was rebuilt and remained popular for decades, but as the neighborhood changed in the early 20th century, upper class audiences drifted uptown. The auditorium was used as a vaudeville and film house until its demolition in 1926.

Grand Ball at the Academy of Music - New York City (Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1871)  
Grand Ball - 1871 Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper  

Cinema Treasures: New York City's first Academy of Music spanned two centuries, opening wih grand opera in 1854 and being operated by William Fox from 1910 until demolition in 1926. The original seating capacity was reported as 4,000, but after a serious fire in 1866, the theatre went through a series of rebuildings and renovations that gradually reduced it to about 2,500.

When William Fox first took over the Academy's lease, he presented only stage plays with a resident stock company. As soon as feature-length movies became the vogue, Fox switched to films, supporting them with vaudeville to counter fierce competition from neighboring theatres. Fox also moved the entrance from Gramercy Place to 14th Street, which provided more space and better visibilty for the marquee and other electric signs.

When the Consolidated Gas Company purchased the site for an addition to its nearby headquarters, William Fox built a new theatre directly opposite at 126 E. 14th Street and named it in honor of the demolished Academy of Music. The second Academy met a similar fate, being demolished in 1997 for another of NYU's student dormitories in the area.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

The first Academy of Music was the most prestigious theatre for opera in New York prior to the opening of the first Metropolitan Opera House. It's listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. At that time it was under the direction of E.G. Gilmore and Eugene Tompkins. The latter was also director of the Boston Theatre on Washington Street in Boston. Admission prices ranged from 25 cents to $1.50. Seating capacity: Orchestra- 498; Orchestra Circle- 436; Balcony- 508; Second Balcony- 150; Gallery- 518; Total: 2,110. The theatre had both gas and electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 44 feet wide X 40 feet high, and the stage was 66 feet deep. There were 15 in the house orchestra. In Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper of Feb. 21, 1880, there is an interior drawing made during the Masquerade Ball of the Liederkranz. That drawing, showing the very elaborate interior, plus an exterior photo shot around 1865, are in the book "The Liederkranz of New York, 1848-1948" published in NY in 1948.

posted by Ron Salters on Oct 29, 2007 at 10:37am
The Academy of Music closed forever with a gala "farewell" performance on May 17th, 1926, by which time its new namesake was nearing completion. A long and detailed report can be found in the New York Times of 5/18/26. I would be happy to send a copy to anyone contacting me privately at Warrengwhiz@nyc.rr.com
posted by Warren on Oct 29, 2007 at 11:02am
Gramercy Place entrance of the Academy of Music - New York City (Cinema Treasures)  
Gramercy (Irving) Place Entrance  

Movies were shown at the Academy of Music as early as 1897, when films of recent boxing matches were projected via the Veriscope system, according to Terry Ramsaye's "A Million and One Nights," an industry history published in 1926, the same year that the AOM was demolished. Recalling its original dedication to classical music and drama, Ramsaye wrote that "For many years, the Academy of Music has been a motion picture theatre, a sort of withered crone, flamboyant with garish electric garlands in the tragic gaiety of a desperate old age. The queen, deposed, is a rag picker now."

14th Street entrance of the Academy of Music - New York City (Cinema Treasures)  
14th Street Entrance  
posted by Warren on Nov 2, 2007 at 8:57am

The second Academy of Music was built by William Fox, with Thomas Lamb as architect. It was never intended as a concert hall, and first opened in 1927 as a deluxe "presentation" house with a feature movie and vaudeville. Fox had been shut out of building in the Broadway-Times Square area, so he hoped that crowds would flock to 14th Street to attend this beautifully appointed 3,600-seat theatre, but that didn't happen. With the onset of the Depression, Fox lost his entire theatre empire, including the Academy of Music. In the bankruptcy proceedings that followed, the Academy became part of the Skouras circuit, which operated it for the rest of its four decades as a movie theatre. Skouras was notorious for its housekeeping, and the Academy became increasingly shabby and uncomfortable with the passing of time...Interestingly, simultaneously with the Academy of Music, Fox and Lamb built a slightly smaller version in Brooklyn on Bedford Avenue near Eastern Parkway. The 3,200-seat Savoy Theatre had a similar auditorium, but without a grand lobby connecting it to the entrance. Happily, the Savoy still stands and is used as an evangelical church, with most of the interior decor intact except for whitewashing of some areas. Some of the original "drops" used for vaudeville are still hanging in the stage loft.

posted by Warren on Jan 20, 2004 at 10:16am
Fox Academy of Music (Architecture and Building, Jan. 1927)   Fox Academy of Music (Architecture and Building, Jan. 1927)
Fox Academy of Music (Architecture and Building, January 1927)
The Academy of Music closed in the autumn of 1975 and re-opened a year later as a concert hall called the Palladium, according to newspaper reports of the time. The Palladium's first booking was for the rock group, The Band, on September 18th and 19th, 1976...In 1984-85, the Palladium was transformed into a discotheque by the famed Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, who retained some of the decaying decor of Thomas Lamb's original theatre. A long article by critic Paul Goldberger about the renovation can be found in the May 20th, 1985 issue of The New York Times...The demolition of the Palladium was first announced in December, 1996. I don't know the date of the actual start of the process, but it took months due to the massiveness of the building.
posted by Warren on Oct 14, 2007 at 8:10am


               
Wurlitzer Organ Company
North Tonawanda, N.Y. – Opus 1406 (1926)
Electro-pneumatic action
Style 260 Special
3 manuals, 15 ranks



Specifications of this organ have not yet been located.
               

M.P. Möller, Inc.
Hagerstown, Md. – Opus 3801 (1923)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 73 registers, 54 stops, 15 ranks
               
Solo Organ (Top Manual) – 61 notes
8
  Horn Diapason
73
16
  Bass Clarinet [TC]
8
  Tibia Clausa
85
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  French Horn
85
 
Chimes
20 bells
4
  Octave Horn [French Horn]
 
Orchestral Bells [Harp]
37 bars
8
  Cello Solo
73
 
Glockenspiel [Harp]
37 notes
8
  Oboe Horn
73
 
Marimba
49 bars
8
  Kinura
73
 
Harp
49 notes
4
  Flute [Tibia Clausa]
 
Xylophone
49 bars
8
  Clarinet
73
   
 
   
 
   
Great Organ (Middle Manual) – 61 notes

16
  Tuba Profunda [TC]
73
4
  Octave
16
  Contra Bass Bourdon
97
4
  Flute
16
  Double Open Diapason [TC]
85
4
  Violin I
8
  Tuba Mirabilis
4
  Violin Celeste
8
  Open Diapason
4
  Violins II
8
  Flute
2
  Piccolo
8
  Violin I
85
2 2/3
  Quint
8
  Celeste
73
2 2/3
  Twelfth
8
  Violins II
73
2
  Fifteenth
4
  Clarion
   
 
   
 
   
Solo Organ (Lower Manual) – 61 notes

16
  Bourdon
2
  Piccolo
8
  Open Diapason #1
2
  Fifteenth
8
  Solo String
2 2/3
  Twelfth
8
  Viole d'Orchestre
  Snare Drum, roll
8
  Vox Celeste
  Triangle, tap
8
  Flute
  Tom Tom, tap
8
  Flute
  Chinese Block, tap
8
  Solo String
  Tambourine
8
  Vox Celeste
  Castinets
4
  Viole d'Orchestre
   
   
   
Pedal Organ – 32 notes

32
  Resultant
    Second Touch on Pedal  
16
  Diaphonic Diapason
12
    Bass Drum  
16
  Sub Bass
12
    Tympani  
16
  Bourdon
32
    Snare Drum  
16
  Tuba
    Crash Cymbal  
16
  Diapason
    Small Cymbal  
16
  Solo String
    Triangle  
16
  Vox Celeste
       
16
  Viole d'Orchestre
       
16
  Flute
       
16
  Trombone
       
               
Couplers

    Solo to Accompaniment 4' - 8' - 16'   Pedal Octaves
    Solo to Great 4' - 8' - 16'   Accompaniment to Great 4' - 8' - 16'
    Solo to Pedal   Accompaniment to Solo 4' - 8' - 16'
    Great Super and Sub   Accompaniment Super and Sub
    Great to Pedal   Solo Super and Sub
    Great to Pedal Super   Accompaniment to Pedal 8' - 4'
               
Tremulants

    For Solo Organ          
    For Tibia          
    For Tuba          
    1 Tremulant, 2 tablets for Great and Accomp.
               
Toe Pistons

    Song Birds (1)   Thunder Sheet in Solo Organ
    Song Birds (2)   Crash Cymbal
               
Pedal Movements

    Two (2) Swell Pedals according to lay out of swell opening
    Crescendo Pedal          
    Sforzando Pedal          
               
Adjustable Combinations

    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5-6 Affecting Solo Organ
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5-6 Affecting Great Organ
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5-6 Affecting Accompaniment Organ
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5-6 Affecting Pedal Organ
               
Piston Couplers

    Manuals to Great          
    Pedal to Manuals          

               

M.P. Möller, Inc.
Hagerstown, Md. – Op. 1792 (1915)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 38 ranks

Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.

               

Sources:
     "Academy of Music Will Be Torn Down," The New York Times, August 19, 1925.
     
Cinema Treasures website: www.cinematreasures.org
     Hughes, Allen. "Organist Evokes Silent-Film Days: Lee Erwin Plays Wurlitzer at Academy of Music," The New York Times, October 29, 1968.
     Junchen, David L., comp. and ed. by Jeff Weiler. The WurliTzer Pipe Organ – An Illustrated History. Indianapolis: The American Theatre Organ Society, 2005.
     Scofield, Jeff. M.P. Möller Opus List.

     Trupiano, Larry. Factory Specifications for M.P. Möller, Op. 3801 (1923).


Photos:
     Architecture and Building, January 1927: two interior photos.
     Cinema Treasures website: exterior showing entrances on 14th Street and Gramercy Street.
     eBay.com: Anon. 1870 Stereoview of original building exterior.

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