The Booth brothers play Julius Caesar

On November 25, 1864, for one night only, three famous actors—brothers Junius Brutus Booth Jr., Edwin Booth, and John Wilkes Booth (yep, that one)—put on a benefit performance of Julius Caesar.

The play was staged at the opulent Winter Garden Theatre, on Broadway and West 3rd Street (later the site of the Broadway Central Hotel and now an NYU dorm). The Booth brothers, who had never performed together, hoped to raise funds for a Shakespeare statue in the new Central Park.

The show sold out and enough money was raised. But as the brothers performed, a huge fire raged next door to the theatre, set by Confederate sympathizers who plotted to burn down New York City. John Wilkes Booth apparently had nothing to do with that scheme. But months later, he assassinated President Lincoln.

The statue of Shakespeare still stands. Edwin Booth, who disavowed his brother, has his own statue in Gramercy Park, as seen in this 1920 photo:

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