THE 59TH STREET AND CIRCLE THEATRES
Protesting liquor and cabaret licenses is not new.
In 1899, the Holy Name Society of St. Paul the Apostle's Parish, numbering 1,347, protested the opening of a new concert garden and dance hall at 313-15 West 59th Street by the notorious Billy McGlory, owner of a Hester Street dive. Society members did all they could to revoke the hall's license. Opening night provided the Society with more reason to protest. At least a quarter of the patrons at eleven o'clock were unescorted women. By 1901 the theatre was to host "undenominational religious services". At the end of 1902 a Boston theatrical manager dropped his plans for "a high class vaudeville show" in the face of renewed opposition from The Paulist Fathers. The theatre probably did not last long. Though the 59th Street Theatre is present on a 1916 city map, it does not appear on later maps.
Soon after their battle with the 59th Street Theatre, the Fathers had another battle on their hands, the Circle Theatre. Built in 1900, The Circle delayed opening for the Fathers, exercising their rights as a religious organization to maintain a theatre-free zone, opposed it. A year later, to please the church fathers, the theatre opened with orchestra concerts. This didn't pay and didn't please the working class patrons. The Circle was subsequently the host of legitimate theatre, vaudeville, musicals, burlesque, and movies. In 1939 the interior was altered, becoming the Columbus Circle Roller Rink.
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