Louis N. Jaffe Art Theater (Yiddish Art Theater/Yiddish Folks Theater) – Exterior and Interior

STATUS Designated Exterior and Interior Landmark

189 Second Avenue

ARCHITECT: Harrison G. Wiseman

DATE: 1925-26

STYLE: Moorish Revival

East Village Manhattan Moorish Revival Theater

The Jaffe Art Theater is one of the most tangible reminders of the heyday of Yiddish theater in New York City in the early twentieth century. The Moorish Revival design of the cast-stone front portion of the theater building incorporates Alhambraic motifs and Judaic references, but also reflects contemporary architectural trends of the 1920s, including the search for an appropriate stylistic expression for synagogues and other Jewish institutions, the interest in contrast between areas of blank wall surface and concentrated areas of flat decoration, and the use of “exotic” styles for theaters.

The elaborate exotic design of the theater interior incorporates polychromatic ornamentation with a variety of motifs inspired by Moorish, Islamic, and Alhambraic sources, with Judaic references. The theater presented the work of many of the most important figures of the twentieth-century Yiddish and English-language stages, including actors, directors, writers, and designers.

STATUS Designated Exterior and Interior Landmark

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