Helen Hayes Theatre

238 W. 44th Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Additional Info

Architects: F.B. Hoffman, Jr., Harry Creighton Ingalls, Herbert J. Krapp

Functions: Live Theatre

Styles: Colonial Revival

Previous Names: Winthrop Ames Theatre, Little Theatre, Ann Nichols' Little Theatre, Times Hall Theatre

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Helen Hayes Theatre

The Winthrop Ames Theatre was opened March 12, 1912 with a production of John Galsworthy’s comedy “The Pigeon”. It is one of the smallest Broadway legitimate theatres. It was designed in a Neo-Federal style by architects Harry Creighton Ingalls & F.B. Hoffman, Jr. with just 299 seats. In the 1910’s architect Herbert J. Krapp was employed to add a balcony to increase the seating capacity to 450. In 1919 it was taken over by Oliver Morosco and in 1920 John Golden was the operator. In 1931 it became part of the Astor families property empire and was sold to the New York Times in January 1942 to be renamed Times Hall Theatre, used mainly for conferences, lectures and recitals.

In 1959 it was leased out to ABC as a TV & radio studio. It reopened, again as the Winthrop Ames Theatre on September 7, 1964 with a move-over from the Royale Theatre of “The Subject Was Roses”. Later in 1964 it was renamed Little Theatre and leased to the Westinghouse network who televised “Beat the Clock” in 1969 also “The Merv Griffin Show” and the “David Frost Show” from the theatre. In September 1973 it had a brief run screening gay male pornographic movies. In April 1974 it returned to legitimate theatre once again and among its ‘hit’ runs were “Gemini” from May 1977 and “Torch Song Trilogy” from October 1983.

In July 1983, following the demolition of the Helen Hayes Theatre on W. 46th Street in 1982, it was renamed Helen Hayes Theatre. On November 17, 1987 it was declared a landmark building by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm

I am sure your aliases as Warren G. Harris and Tinseltoes would agree with you, but Ken Roe wrote the intro and I agree with Ken Roe. This is a historic cinema treasure even more for the opposition to it by moralists and the projectionists Union. (thanks for that Union photo!).

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm

The Internet Broadway Data Base has the seat count at approximately 597, which sounds right since I believe the minimum seating to be considered a Broadway house is 499…

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 12, 2017 at 12:08 pm

And I agree with Comfortably Cool: Three days a porno theater does not a cinema treasure make…

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 16, 2017 at 9:57 am

Stretching CT’s rules doesn’t bother me. (I recall that someone once set up a page here for a highschool auditorium somewhere). I like to see the CT database growing. I think that there should be a sub-program in CT called “Stage Treasures” for all the legit theaters, opera houses and concert halls.

HowardBHaas on July 16, 2017 at 10:10 am

There is no harm to this website’s having a page for this wonderful theater, no matter how little it may have hosted film. I can assure you that Ken Roe’s volunteer work is much appreciated by the site’s owners.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 17, 2017 at 11:21 am

That’s a great idea, Comf. Cool ! How about “Entertainment Venue World”, or “Cinema & Stage Treasures”? Thousands of additional buildings could be listed here.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 18, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Good luck figuring out whether or not to allow a church in the midwest that once hosted “TONY & TINA’S WEDDING” for three days, a listing.

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