Theatre on Nassau Street

Coordinates: 40°42′33″N 74°00′30″W / 40.70917°N 74.00833°W / 40.70917; -74.00833
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The Theatre on Nassau Street, or The New Theatre, was probably the first purpose-built theatre in Manhattan.[1]


It was a two-story wooden structure, owned by merchant and former governor Rip Van Dam, and it opened on December 11, 1732, with a performance of The Recruiting Officer.[1] The building was located at what is now 64–66 Nassau Street, between John Street and Maiden Lane.[2]

In 1750, shortly after Van Dam's death, it hosted New York's first-known performance of a musical, The Beggar's Opera, presented by a London-based traveling troupe, Murray & Kean's. This was also the first record of professional actors in New York; previously all productions had been amateur affairs.[3] In 1753, actor and director Lewis Hallam expanded the theatre, describing the new structure as "very fine, large and commodious."[2] But only a few years later, in 1758, the building was converted to a German Calvinist church, and finally demolished in 1765 to be replaced by a more substantial building which remained on the same site until 1822.[2][4]


  1. ^ a b Wilmeth, Don Burton; Bigsby, Christopher, eds. (1998). The Cambridge History of American Theatre. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 375. ISBN 9780521472043.
  2. ^ a b c Saerchinger, César (1920). "Musical Landmarks in New York". The Musical Quarterly. Vol. 6. p. 77-78.
  3. ^ Maitland, Leslie (25 June 1976). "A Walk Down Ghostly Aisles". New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  4. ^ "The Past and Present Religious and Racial Conditions of "Oldest New York"". Federation. Vol. 3, no. 4. December 1904. p. 37.

40°42′33″N 74°00′30″W / 40.70917°N 74.00833°W / 40.70917; -74.00833