Posts Tagged ‘Edwin Booth’

The Little Church Around the Corner

June 23, 2009

Officially known as the Church of the Transfiguration since its founding in 1848, the lilliputian Episcopal parish at 29th Street off Fifth Avenue got its nickname because it welcomed actors during a time when acting was considered a disreputable profession.

In 1870, when another church nearby at 28th and Madison refused to host an actor’s funeral, the Church of the Transfiguration stepped in. “God bless that little church ’round the corner,” a friend of the dead actor supposedly said. And the name stuck.

Littlechurchpostcard

The Little Church also hosted the 1893 funeral of actor (and brother of a presidential assassin) Edwin Booth. It was and still is a popular places to get married in the city.

Set back from the street (which, needless to say, no longer looks as pristine as it does in the 1910 postcard above) with pretty gardens and an ornate entryway, it’s a captivating spot to break away from the rush of city life.

The Booth brothers play Julius Caesar

September 24, 2008

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: