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Guide to the Lee Harris Pomeroy Papers on the Preservation of the Broadway Theatre District
1952-1994 (bulk 1981-1983)
 MS 3060

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Ariana Heinsdorf

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on February 10, 2020
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical / Historical

Lee Harris Pomeroy (1932-2018) was the founder and design principal of LHP Architects in New York, leading the firm for 52 years until his death. He was a prolific and award winning New York City architect that expanded his firm's reach to projects overseas as well. He is known for the architectural restoration of New York landmarks such as the Plaza Hotel, and St. James and Trinity Churches. His firm was active in subway and rail station renovation designs including work in Bleecker Street, Fulton Street Pedestrian Mall, and Grand Central Station.

In 1981, Pomeroy was approached by the Actors' Equity Association to explore the feasibility of building the proposed "Portman Hotel" (known today as the Times Square Marriott Marquis) while preserving the Helen Hayes and Morosco Theatres that stood on the planned site of the block bound by 45th and 46th Streets between 7th and 8th Avenues. He devised an alternate plan that would preserve the theaters while retaining significant elements of architect John Portman's hotel design. The proposal was eventually denied by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The Helen Hayes and Morosco Theatres were torn down in 1982, and construction of the Marriott Marquis commenced. That same year, Pomeroy was the recipient of the Municipal Arts Society Award for his efforts to save the Morosco and Helen Hayes Theatres and "raising the consciousness of New Yorkers to their theatre heritage."

Save the Theatres, Inc., led by Broadway producer and director, Joseph Papp, brought the theater preservation issue to the House of Representatives. Working with New York Representative Donald J. Mitchell, bill H.R.6885 "to designate the Broadway/Times Square District in the city of New York as a national historic site, and for other purposes" was introduced on 28 July 1982. This legislation was not enacted and as a result the Broadway theaters and district are not National Historic Sites. Pomeroy worked with Save the Theatres, Inc. to prepare a study published in December 1983 titled, "Broadway Theatre District: A Preservation, Development, and Management Plan."

As chairman of the Community Board #5 Zoning Committee, Pomeroy persisted in the fight for Broadway theater preservation. On 19 October 1982 CB#5 testified to the Landmarks Preservation Committee for 44 theaters to receive landmark designation. Not all of the theaters were immediately designated, but the process had begun. By 1987, 25 theaters were designated New York City landmarks. In response to the controversy surrounding the Times Square and Theater District zoning and development, Mayor Koch created the Theatre Advisory Committee. Pomeroy was a participant and contributed to deliberations on midtown zoning and theater preservation. Today the area is zoned as the "Theater Subdistrict " and the Theater Subdistrict Council was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit corporation.