|Avery Drawings & Archives Collections|
At a Glance
This material is arranged in four series: Correspondence, Visual Materials, Files, and Architectural Drawing.
Scope and Content
Series I: Correspondence is made up of 73 letters, 12 telegrams, 1 invoice and 1 contract between Frank Lloyd Wright and The New Theater Corporation. The letters primarily document the efforts of theater director Paton Price to construct a "New Theater" designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Hartford, CT. As the project takes shape, the letters offer a window into the relationship Wright had with his clients.
Series II: Visual Materials consists of 15 gelatin silver prints of Wright and the model of the Theater, several taken at an introductory luncheon for the planned Theater, and 8 photographic negatives of Wright and others.
Series III: Files includes publicity material for the New Theater as well as some Taliesin brochures and programs, and miscellaneous receipts and notes.
Series IV: Architectural Drawing contains 1 perspective drawing of the New Theater in brown ink on trace paper dated January 2, 1949 and signed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Using the Collection
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Permission to publish must be obtained in writing from the Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, 1172 Amsterdam Ave., MC 0301, New York, NY 10027.
The New Theater, Hartford, CT / Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Processed; Shelley Hayreh 2011.
2011-07-27 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Wright had originally designed a "New Theater" for Woodstock, NY in 1931 that never came to fruition. When Paton Price (1916-1982) wrote to him in early 1948 proposing a new venue in Hartford, CT, the architect took the opportunity to revive his earlier project. Price would fund the construction through his own savings and from donations and loans, and received endorsements from members of the theater community including Kirk Douglas, Helen Hayes, and Henry Fonda. Understanding the need for publicity, Price asked whether Wright would allow the theatre to be named after him (Wright refused), and got local leaders and media interested. The two formally entered into a contract in November of 1948, and Price was soon anxiously asking Wright for drawings, a model, and designs for a brochure.
The New Theater plan was debuted at a party in Hartford on January 25, 1949, hosted by Hartford Times publisher Francis Murphy for Price and Wright. Said Wright at the time, "This theater is the one thing I simply must build before they put me in a box." Guests at the Hartford News luncheon included the Governor of Connecticut Chester Bowles, architectural scholar Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Broadway producer Oscar Serlin, and Director of the Wadsworth Atheneum Charles Cunningham.
The project received opposition from local Hartford residents, and eventually was turned down by the zoning board. Wright and Price remained on friendly terms, and the architect later realized his dream to build a theater in the Kalita Humphreys Theater in Dallas, TX, which opened in 1959.