Thomas W. Lamb

Last updated
Thomas W. Lamb
Thomas W. Lamb 1926.jpg
Lamb in 1926
Alma mater Cooper Union
PracticeThomas W. Lamb, Incorporated
Buildings Fox Theatre, San Francisco, 1929;
Madison Square Garden, 1925

Thomas White Lamb (1871–1942) was an American architect, born in Scotland. He is noted as one of the foremost designers of theaters and cinemas in the 20th century.

Architect Person trained to plan and design buildings, and oversee their construction

An architect is a person who plans, designs and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.

Theater (structure) performing arts venue

A theater, theatre or playhouse, is a structure where theatrical works or plays are performed, or other performances such as musical concerts may be produced. While a theater is not required for performance, a theater serves to define the performance and audience spaces. The facility is traditionally organized to provide support areas for performers, the technical crew and the audience members.

Movie theater Venue, usually a building, for viewing films

A movie theater, cinema, or cinema hall, also known as a picture house, the pictures, or the movies, is a building that contains auditoria for viewing films for entertainment. Most, but not all, theaters are commercial operations catering to the general public, who attend by purchasing a ticket. Some movie theaters, however, are operated by non-profit organizations or societies that charge members a membership fee to view films.



Born in Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom, Thomas W. Lamb came to the United States at the age of 12. He studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York and initially worked for the City of New York as an inspector. His architecture firm, Thomas W. Lamb, Inc., was located at 36 West 40th Street in Manhattan, New York. [1]

Cooper Union United States historic place

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly known as Cooper Union or The Cooper Union and informally referred to, especially during the 19th century, as 'the Cooper Institute', is a private college at Cooper Square on the border of the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Inspired in 1830 when Peter Cooper learned about the government-supported École Polytechnique in France, Cooper Union was established in 1859. The school was built on a radical new model of American higher education based on founder Peter Cooper's fundamental belief that an education "equal to the best technology schools [then] established" should be accessible to those who qualify, independent of their race, religion, sex, wealth or social status, and should be "open and free to all".

Lamb achieved recognition as one of the leading architects of the boom in movie theater construction of the 1910s and 1920s. Particularly associated with the Fox Theatres, Loew's Theatres and Keith-Albee chains of vaudeville and film theaters, Lamb was instrumental in establishing and developing the design and construction of the large, lavishly decorated theaters, known as "movie palaces", as showcases for the films of the emerging Hollywood studios. His first theater design was the City Theatre, built in New York in 1909 for film mogul William Fox. His designs for the 1914 Mark Strand Theatre, the 1916 Rialto Theatre and the 1917 Rivoli Theatre, all in New York's Times Square, set the template for what would become the American movie palace.

Fox Theatres

Fox Theatres was a large chain of movie theaters in the United States dating from the 1920s either built by Fox Film studio owner William Fox, or subsequently merged in 1929 by Fox with the West Coast Theatres chain, to form the Fox West Coast Theatres chain. Fox West Coast went into bankruptcy and was sold to The National Theatres Corporation, led by Charles Skouras, on November 20, 1933 for $17,000,000.00. Eugene V. Klein later became CEO of National, and turned it into the conglomerate National General. Mann Theatres bought National General's theatres in 1973.

Loews Cineplex Entertainment theater chain

Loews Theatres, also known as Loews Incorporated, founded on June 23, 1904 by Marcus Loew, was the oldest theater chain operating in North America until it merged with AMC Theatres on January 26, 2006. From 1924 until 1959, it was also the parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM). The Loews name was used until 2017, when AMC simplified their branding to focus on three main lines: AMC, AMC Classic and AMC Dine-In after their purchase of Carmike Cinemas.

William Fox (producer) American film producer

William Fox was a Hungarian-American motion picture executive, who founded the Fox Film Corporation in 1915 and the Fox West Coast Theatres chain in the 1920s. Although he lost control of his movie empire in 1930, his name lives on in the names of various media ventures, including 20th Century Fox, Fox Broadcasting Company, and Fox News Channel.

Among his most notable theaters are the 1929 Fox Theatre in San Francisco and the 1919 Capitol Theatre in New York, both now demolished. Among his most noted designs that have been preserved and restored are the B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre in Boston (1928) (now the Boston Opera House), Warner's Hollywood Theatre (1930) in New York (now the Times Square Church), the Hippodrome Theatre (1914) in Baltimore, and the Loew's Ohio Theatre (1928) in Columbus, Ohio. Among Lamb's Canadian theaters that have been preserved are the Pantages Theatre in Toronto (1920) (now the Ed Mirvish Theatre). [2] and Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres. The Cinema Treasures website, which documents the history of film theaters, lists 174 theaters designed by Lamb's company.

Capitol Theatre (New York City) former movie theater at 1645 Broadway, just north of Times Square in Manhattan, New York City, United States

The Capitol Theatre was a movie palace located at 1645 Broadway, just north of Times Square in New York City, across from the Winter Garden Theatre. Designed by the noted theater architect Thomas W. Lamb, the Capitol seated 4,000 and opened October 24, 1919. After 1924 the flagship theatre of the Loews Theatres chain, the Capitol was known as the premiere site of many Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) films. The Capitol was also noted for presenting live musical revues and many jazz and swing bands on its stage.

Mark Hellinger Theatre former Broadway theater and movie theater in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, United States, now a church

The Mark Hellinger Theatre is a former Broadway theatre and cinema complex, located at 237 West 51st Street in midtown Manhattan, New York City. Since 1989, it has been home to the Times Square Church. The former theater, which remains largely unaltered in appearance, is most notable for having been the site of the original production of My Fair Lady, which ran from 1956 to 1962.

Times Square Church Church in New York , United States

Times Square Church is a non-denominational church located at 237 West 51st Street in the Theater District of Manhattan, New York City. Many people representing over one hundred nationalities gather to worship together every week. Volunteers from the congregation participate in over forty ministries, ranging from feeding the homeless in New York City to staffing an orphanage in South Africa. A major emphasis at Times Square Church is giving aid to the disadvantaged.

Aside from movie theaters, Lamb is noted for designing (with Joseph Urban) New York's Ziegfeld Theatre, a legitimate theater, as well as the third Madison Square Garden and the Paramount Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

Joseph Urban American scenic designer and architect

Joseph Urban was an Austrian-American architect, illustrator and scenic designer.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Ziegfeld Theatre (1927) former movie theater (1927–1966) in New York City

The Ziegfeld Theatre was a Broadway theatre located at 1341 Sixth Avenue, corner of 54th Street in Manhattan, New York City. It was built in 1927 and, despite public protests, was razed in 1966.

Lamb died in 1942 in New York City at the age of 71. His architectural archive is held by the Drawings and Archives Department of Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University.

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library library at Columbia University in New York City

The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library is a library located in Avery Hall on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University in the New York City. It is the largest architecture library in the world. Serving Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Avery Library collects books and periodicals in architecture, historic preservation, art history, painting, sculpting, graphic arts, decorative arts, city planning, real estate, and archaeology, as well as archival materials primarily documenting 19th- and 20th-century American architects and architecture. The architectural, fine arts, and archival collections are non-circulating. The Ware Collection, mainly books on urban planning and real estate development, does circulate.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 near the Upper West Side region of Manhattan, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

John J. McNamara

During the last ten years of his practice, Lamb's associate was the architect John J. McNamara. [3] After Lamb's death, McNamara continued as an architect of theaters under his own name. McNamara was responsible for renovating some of Lamb's older New York theaters, and among his original designs was one for the 1969 Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan, which replaced Lamb's original building.

Selected theater designs

United States



Residential architecture

Thomas W. Lamb Residence ISplp7wkxywh9b1000000000.jpg
Thomas W. Lamb Residence

In 1920, Lamb designed for himself a private summer home in the Adirondacks in the village of Elizabethtown, New York. The house, which is still extant as a residence, is situated on the Boquet River. The eight-bedroom manor, referred to today as Cobble Mountain Lodge, is a shingle and cobble stone design marked by the inclusion of a stone turret.

Related Research Articles

Rapp and Rapp

The architectural firm Rapp and Rapp was active in Chicago, Illinois during the early 20th century. Brothers Cornelius Ward Rapp (1861-1926) and George Leslie Rapp (1878–1941) of Carbondale, Illinois were the named partners and 1899 alumni of the University of Illinois School of Architecture.

Movie palace

A movie palace is any of the large, elaborately decorated movie theaters built between the 1910s and the 1940s. The late 1920s saw the peak of the movie palace, with hundreds opened every year between 1925 and 1930. With the advent of television, movie attendance dropped and many movie palaces were razed or converted into multiple screen venues or performing arts centers.

Playhouse Square United States historic place

Playhouse Square is a theater district in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, USA. It is the largest performing arts center in the United States outside of New York. Constructed in a span of 19 months in the early 1920s, the theaters were subsequently closed down, but were revived through a grassroots effort. Their renovation and reopening helped usher in a new era of downtown revitalization in Cleveland, and was called "one of the top ten successes in Cleveland history."

Ohio Theatre (Columbus, Ohio) United States historic place

The Ohio Theatre is a performing arts center located at 39 E. State Street in Columbus, Ohio. Known as the "Official Theatre of the State of Ohio", the historic 1928 movie palace was saved from demolition in 1969 and completely restored. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977 as one of the nation's finest surviving grand theaters.

C. Howard Crane American architect

Charles Howard Crane was an American architect who was primarily active in Detroit, Michigan. His designs include Detroit's Fox Theatre and Olympia Stadium, as well as LeVeque Tower in Columbus, Ohio, which remains that city's second tallest building.

Capitol Cinema (Ottawa) former cinema in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The Capitol Cinema was the largest movie theatre ever built in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and was the city's only true movie palace. Opened in 1920, the 2530-seat cinema was regarded as one of the best cinemas designed by famed theatre-architect Thomas W. Lamb.

Keith-Albee Theatre United States historic place

Keith-Albee is a theatre located along Fourth Avenue in downtown Huntington, West Virginia in the United States of America. The Keith-Albee was named after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation, one of the leading vaudeville performance chains at that time, to convince the directors of Keith-Albee-Orpheum to make the Keith-Albee a regular stop. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District, and is currently being restored as a performing arts center.

John Eberson American architect

John Adolph Emil Eberson was a European born American architect best known for the development and promotion of movie palace designs in the atmospheric theatre style.

United Palace

The United Palace is a church and non-profit cultural and performing arts center located at 4140 Broadway between West 175th and 176th Streets in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. A full-block building, it is bounded on the east by Wadsworth Avenue.

Atmospheric theatre

An atmospheric theatre is a type of movie palace design which was popular in the late 1920s. Atmospheric theatres were designed and decorated to evoke the feeling of a particular time and place for patrons, through the use of projectors, architectural elements and ornamentation that evoked a sense of being outdoors. This was intended to make the patron a more active participant in the setting.

Robert Morton Organ Company pipe organ manufacturer in the U.S

The Robert Morton Organ Company was a producer of theater pipe organs and church organs, located in Van Nuys, California. Robert Morton was the number two volume producer of theatre organs, building approximately half as many organs as the industry leader Wurlitzer. The name Robert Morton was derived not from any person in the company, but rather from the name of company president Harold J. Werner's son, Robert Morton Werner.

Landmark Theatre (Syracuse, New York) Theater in Syracuse, New York

The Landmark Theatre, originally known as Loew's State Theater, is an historic theater from the era of "movie palaces", located on South Salina Street in Syracuse, New York, United States. Designed by Thomas W. Lamb, it is the city's only surviving example of the opulent theatrical venues of the 1920s. The Landmark is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Olympia Theatre (New York City) former theater complex in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, United States

The Olympia Theatre, also known as Hammerstein's Olympia, was a theatre complex built by impresario Oscar Hammerstein I in Longacre Square, New York City, opening in 1895. It consisted of a theatre, a music hall, a concert hall, and a roof garden. It was later named the New York Theatre and Loew's New York.

Hippodrome Theatre (Baltimore) United States historic place

The Hippodrome Theatre is a theater in Baltimore, Maryland. Built in 1914 for impresarios Marion Scott Pearce and Scheck, the 2300-seat theater was the foremost vaudeville house in Baltimore, as well as a movie theater. When the movie palace opened it was the largest theatre south of Philadelphia. The Hippodrome was designed by Thomas W. Lamb, one of the foremost theater architects of his time. Lamb gave the theater an unusually strong presence on Eutaw Street through the use of brick and terra cotta on a massive façade. The Hippodrome was renovated in 2004 for use as a performing arts theater, and is part of the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center.

Palace Theatre (Columbus, Ohio) performing arts center in Columbus, Ohio, a former movie theater

The Palace Theatre is a 2,827-seat restored movie palace located at 34 W. Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio. It was designed and built in 1926 by the American architect Thomas W. Lamb as part of the American Insurance Union Citadel. Today the theater functions as a multi-use performing arts venue. It is owned and operated by The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts. The Palace Theater's "house" is considered separate from LeVeque Tower, while the Marquee and lobby are part of the Leveque complex.

Paul Cornelius Reilly (1890–1984) was an American architect who designed many buildings for Catholic clients. He is also remembered for his design of Manhattan theatres.

Eugene De Rosa American architect

Eugene L. De Rosa was an Italian American architect, called at birth Eugenio. He worked in New York City and specialized in the design of theatres.

The RKO Boston Theatre was a movie theatre in Boston, Massachusetts, located at 616 Washington Street, near Essex Street in the Boston Theater District. It opened as the Keith-Albee Boston Theatre on October 5, 1925.

Loews Theatre, New Rochelle former movie theater in New Rochelle, New York, United States

Loew's Theatre is a historic movie theater located on Main Street in the Downtown section of the city of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York.


  1. "THOMAS W. LAMB, 71; A NOTED ARCHITECT". New York Times. February 27, 1942.
  2. Pound, Richard W. (2005). 'Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates'. Fitzhenry and Whiteside.
  3. Dunlap, David W. (May 9, 1988). "John J. McNamara, an Architect And Theater Designer, Dies at 90". New York Times.
  4. Morrison, William (1999). Broadway Theatres: History and Architecture (trade paperback). Dover Books on Architecture. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. p. 82. ISBN   0-486-40244-4.
  5. Morrison, p. 82
  6. Cinema Treasures
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2011-03-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Ontario Heritage Trust Loew's Yonge Street and Winter Garden Theatres
  9. Archives of Ontario Archived 2003-12-27 at the Wayback Machine
  10. The Capitol Theatre and Arts Centre Archived 2013-04-01 at the Wayback Machine