Originally named the Globe after Shakespeare’s theatre in England, the theatre opened on January 10, 1910, built by producer Charles B. Dillingham.
The theatre was designed by famed architects Carrère and Hastings, and featured a large stage, a compact auditorium, Italian Renaissance decor with draperies of Rose du Barry and walls of old gold, blue, and ivory white. According to the New York Dramatic Mirror, the theatre was a “ complete novelty in American theatrical design.”
For its debut, Dillingham chose Old Town, a lavish musical for two of that era’s most popular musical-comedy stars, Dave Montgomery and Fred Stone, which was greeted with rave reviews.
After a thriving start, the theatre shuttered during the Great Depression. By 1932, Dillingham was wiped out financially and lost the Globe Theatre. It was converted to a movie house, where it showed films until 1957.
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre auditorium
In 1957, Roger Stevens and Robert W. Dowling of the City Investing Company purchased and restored the theatre. Dowling chose to redo the theatre in an elegant 18th-century style. A new stage was built, the second balcony removed, and a cantilevered mezzanine added. Blue damask walls, crystal chandeliers, and a hundred-foot ceiling mural depicting the theatrical muses added to the house’s new opulence.
In addition to a restored design, the theatre was renamed the Lunt-Fontanne in honor of America’s foremost husband/wife acting couple, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.