The first theatrical presentation at the Cherry Lane Playhouse (now the Cherry Lane Theatre) opened on March 24th, 1924: Richard Fresnell’s play, “Saturday Night.” Since then, many plays have been performed, and many a well known name has appeared on the marquis: Barbra Streisand, Judith Ivey, Bruce Willis, Gary Sinise, John Malkovich, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Colin Quinn, Jesse Eisenberg, Vanessa Redgrave, and Kim Stanley.
Located in one of the most scenic corners of the West Village, where Commerce Street (formerly Cherry Lane) turns to meet Barrow Street, the Cherry Lane Theatre is one of those treasures that we should all be thankful for, and that we should all support. This historic building, once a brewery, was converted to a theater in 1924 by a group affiliated with local resident (and Pulitzer Prize winning poet) Edna St. Vincent Millay. Playwrights including Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, William Saroyan, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, and David Mamet have had their works presented here.
Nearby, on the corner of Commerce Street and Bedford Street, the Isaacs-Hendricks House, built in 1799, stands as a reminder of an earlier time when horses trotted on dirt streets, water came from a well or stream (or was collected in barrels from what ran off the roof), and trees were chopped down for fireplaces used to heat the house and cook the food. The original Greenwich Village – a country village, distant from what was New York City then – watched as the city grew around it. We are so lucky to have different historic styles of architecture – Federal, Greek revival, Italianate, and tenement, to name a few – that bring this history to life every time you walk down the street.
By the way, this historic Isaac-Hendricks House will be featured on GVSHP’s Spring House Tour on Sunday, May 1st. You can buy tickets here.