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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

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Pomeroy, Lee Harris, 1932-2018
Title: Lee Harris Pomeroy papers on the preservation of the Broadway Theatre District
Dates [inclusive]: 1952-1994 (bulk 1981-1983)
Abstract: The Lee Harris Pomeroy Papers on the Preservation of the Broadway Theatre District contains documents that demonstrate Pomeroy's involvement in the Broadway theater preservation movement during the early 1980s. As an award winning architect, Pomeroy became involved after being approached by the Actors' Equity Association in 1981 to devise an alternate plan to the 49 floor hotel slated for construction on the block where the Helen Hayes and Morosco Theatres were located. Pomeroy's plan made changes to the hotel plan that included the preservation of the theaters on the street level, with the hotel built above. The proposal was rejected and the theaters were bulldozed to make way for the Times Square Marriott Marquis. This collection documents Pomeroy's alternate plan as well as his continued involvement with preservation attempts for the Broadway Theatre District as an architect, community board member, and participant in the Theatre Advisory Committee.
Quantity: 2 Linear feet in 2 record cartons
Call Phrase: MS 3060

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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.

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Scope and Contents

The overall collection contains records that convey Lee Harris Pomeroy's connection to the Broadway theater preservation movement in the early 1980s. The major topics covered are the alternate hotel plan devised by Pomeroy to preserve the Helen Hayes and Morosco Theatres, his work with the Save the Theatres Committee and his contributions to their 1983 study of the Broadway theatre district, and his participation in the Theatre Advisory Council.

Project #8109, titled Theatre District Study, contains news clippings, brochure material, presentation documents, study proposal drafts, project data, press releases, copies of building renderings printed on photographic paper, a few photographic prints of the Helen Hayes and Morosco Theatres's demolition, awards, programs from the Morosco Theatre's 65th birthday celebration, and a copy of a letter from the US Department of the Interior.

Project #8109P, titled Portman Hotel, contains news clippings, negatives and transparencies of drawings for the Portman hotel alternate plan, and copies of affidavits made by Pomeroy in the case of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., et al., against The City of New York, et al. under the jurisdiction of the United States District Court Southern District of New York.

Project #8204, titled Broadway Theatre District Study, contains Theatre Advisory Council letters, memos, and reports; Theatre District Study outline and draft; correspondence and documents from Jack Freeman, zoning consultant; contact lists, City Planning Department zoning and 42nd Street development; correspondence and drafts for grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; documents related to the sponsorship of the NY Shakespeare Festival, photos from slides of building renderings, a National Trust grant proposal, a file on Jack L. Goldstein of the Actors' Equity and Committee to Save the Theatres that includes a few photographic prints of the theater razing; minutes of meetings, a file on collaboration with the Harvard Business School, a file on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, legislation that was brought to the House of Representatives, and press on midtown zoning.

Arrangement

This collection was received in labelled folders with an organizational scheme that fit into the LHP firm's administrative record keeping system. Most of the folders included a project number associated with a particular topic, as well as a more specific folder subtopic. That organizational arrangement is preserved by ascending project numbers. The three project numbers represented are #8109 Theatre District Study, #8109P Portman Hotel, and #8204 Broadway Theatre District Study. The more specific folder subtopics within the firm's main project divisions can be found within the collection's scope and contents note. There were three folders that did not have an associated project number and these are listed on their own at the end of the collection inventory. Many of the original folders were in good condition, however due to their acidity they are rehoused within archival folders. The folder title labels were peeling and falling off, so the labels were reattached with staples. There were some original folders that were discarded due to poor condition. In these cases the contents of the original folders were rehoused in archival folders and the titles were transcribed. There are three loose booklets with plastic binding that are listed in box 1 as the first three volumes in the collection inventory. The contents of box 1 folder 1 were extracted from a binder that was not suitable to preserve and are rehoused in an archival folder.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Feasibility studies
  • Letters (correspondence).

Subject Organizations

  • Actors' Equity Association
  • Helen Hayes Theatre (New York, N.Y. : 46th Street)
  • Morosco Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York Marriott Marquis (Hotel)
  • New York (N.Y.). Landmarks Preservation Commission
  • Save the Theatres, Inc.

Subject Topics

  • Architecture -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Architecture -- United States -- 20th century
  • Historic preservation -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Publicity
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Broadway (New York, N.Y.) -- History
  • Times Square (New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Use Restrictions

This collection is owned by the New-York Historical Society. The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder. Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to 20 exposures of stable, unbound material per day.

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as: Lee Harris Pomeroy Collection on the Preservation of the Broadway Theatre District, MS #3060, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Materials

The Joyce Matz Papers MS3050, contain two folders on the Committee to Save the Theatres, located in box 5 folders 2-3.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift from the New York Preservation Archive Project (NYPAP), 2018. NYPAP donated a scrapbook to add to the collection in 2020.

Processing Information

Processed by archival intern Ariana Heinsdorf in July 2018. A scrapbook donated in 2020 was added to the collection by archivist Larry Weimer.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Volume : 1 An Alternate Plan for the Times Square Hotel, Incorporating the Historic Helen Hayes and Morosco Theatres in its Basic Design. Architect: Lee Harris Pomeroy, F.A.I.A

Scope and Contents

Booklet about Portman Hotel project proposed to Lee Harris Pomeroy by the Actors' Equity Association in collaboration with the Committee to Save the Theatres and the Save Our Broadway Committee.

circa 1981
Box: 1 Volume : 2 Preservation of the Helen Hayes and Morosco Theatres. Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects P.C.

Scope and Contents

Booklet about Portman Hotel project including press and drawn renderings.

circa 1982
Box: 1 Volume : 3 A Study by Save the Theatres Inc. - Broadway Theatre District: A Preservation, Development and Management Plan

Scope and Contents

with Lee Harris Pomeroy Associates, Architects Urban Design & Planning Consultants; Jack Goldstein, Save the Theatres, Director of Preservation; Fred W. Kent, Project for Public Spaces, Public Space Management Consultants; Harvard Business School Task Force, Economic & Real Estate Development.

1983 December
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Broadway Planning Study, Portman Hotel Alternative

Scope and Contents

The documents within this folder were extracted from a binder and contain press articles and drawn floor plan renderings on transparencies for multiple levels of the Portman Hotel building.

1981-1986
Box: 1 Folder : 2-7 Project #8109, Theatre District Study (6 folders)
1979-1987
Box: 1 Folder : 8-14 Project #8109P, Portman Hotel (7 folders)
1981-1986
Box: 2 Folder : 1-14 Project #8204, Broadway Theatre District Study (14 folders)
1981-1983
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Brochure Material and Awards

Scope and Contents

Multiple copies of Lee Harris Pomeroy's list of academic, practice, and community interests and list of awards.

circa 1985-1987
Box: 2 Folder : 15 BOMA New York

Scope and Contents

The Building Owners' and Managers' Association 1991 Awards for Excellence Pamphlet and BOMA NY Seminar Series overview for 16 November 1994.

1991, 1994
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Helen Hayes Theatre Floor Plans

Scope and Contents

Color photocopies of drawn floor plan renderings for multiple levels of the Portman Hotel building. Some of these are photocopied from the original transparencies, which can be found in Box 1 Folder 1.

circa 1981
Box: 1 Folder : 15-17 Scrapbook (disbound) (3 folders)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, New York Preservation Archive Project, January 2020.

Scope and Contents

The oversize scrapbook was disbound and the contents foldered. The bulk includes clippings and photocopies of clippings concerning the Portman Hotel matter, dating from 1981-82. There are some clippings and other documents relating to other Pomeroy projects and to him personally, especially related to his college years in the early 1950s at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

1952-1989

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