Although the first commenter on this week's Cornerspotter hinted at the correct location, it was grumps who identified it as the old Fifth Avenue Theater on West 28th Street and Broadway. The historic photo we used was taken by Bernice Abbott in 1938, one year before the theater was demolished to make way for a commercial building. Today, a lovely parking garage occupies the site. The theater was built in 1868, and then redesigned in the ornate neoclassical style by architect Francis Hatch Kimball after a fire in 1891. So why was it called the Fifth Avenue Theater even though it wasn't on Fifth Avenue?
It was first called the St. James Theatre, but the theater proprietor originally operated a theater on Fifth Avenue. When he relocated to the building on Broadway, he changed the name from St. James to the New Fifth Avenue Theater. In 1877, the "new" was dropped.
· Hint: This Ornate Building Is Gone, But The Neighbor Remains [Curbed]
· Fifth Avenue Theatre [Wikipedia]