The Lambs Club - New York City (New York Architecture Images)
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The Lambs Club

128 West 44th Street
New York, N.Y. 10036

Organ Specifications:
3 West 51st Street (since 1975)
• unknown if any
128 West 44th Street (1905-1975)
II/12 The Aeolian Company, Op. 984 (1905)
70 West 36th Street (1880s-1905)
• unknown if any

The Lambs Club at 70 West 36th Street - New York City  
70 West 36th Street  
The Lambs Club is America's first professional theatrical club, organized in 1874 by a group of actors and theatre enthusiasts who met at the original Delmonico's Blue Room on 14th Street for dinner and conversation. They took their name from a similar group, the Lambs Club of London, which flourished from 1869-1879 and met earlier in the 19th century at the house of Charles Lamb, the drama critic and essayist. In its early years, the Lambs occupied a series of rented quarters, and were for many years at 70 West 36th Street.

Like all self-respecting clubs, The Lambs has its traditions. No woman may ever brighten its doors (this policy would change in recent years). No dramatic critic may ever become a member. Every rector of Manhattan's Church of the Transfiguration ("Little Church Around the Corner") is made an honorary member, recalling the time when an actor was denied a funeral by a snooty rector of a Fifth Avenue church, who loftily suggested they "try the little church around the corner." Ever since, the "little church" has enjoyed most of The Lambs' (and the theatre's) nuptial and funeral trade.

In 1888, the club began producing what they called "gambols" to which which outsiders (with the exception of women) were invited. In 1898, the gambol went on a one-week tour to eight cities, raising $67,000 for charity. Thereafter, at the close of the theatrical season, the club made a tour of the principal cities with gambols made up of the parts of various plays in which its principals have appeared. Historically, The Lambs has been the spawning ground of plays, friendships and partnerships. Mark Twain Tonight (with Hal Holbrook) and Stalag 17 were first performed at The Lambs prior to their national success. Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe first met at the Club and teamed to make theatrical history, often trying works-in-progress on their fellow Lambs.

The president of the Lambs Club is the "Shepherd," the vice president is the "Boy," while the officer who manages and directs the "gambols" is known as the "Collie." Although nonprofessional members are admitted, the constitution limits their number to one-third of the membership. Since its founding, there have been more than 6,000 Lambs, its roster reading like a Who's’ Who of American Theatre: Fred Astaire, Red Barber, Maurice Barrymore, and his sons John and Lionel, David Belasco, Ed Begley, Ralph Bellamy, Edgar Bergman, Irving Berlin, Joe E. Brown, Earl Carroll, George M. Cohan, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Eddie Foy (Sr. & Jr.), Sir Cedric Hardwicke, William S. Hart, Victor Herbert, Bert Lahr, Alan J. Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Ring Lardner, Alan Mowbray, Conrad Nagel, Elliot Nugent, Pat O’Brien, Will Rogers, Charlie Ruggles, Otis Skinner, John Philip Sousa, Fred Waring, David Warfield, Bert Wheeler, Ed Herlihy, James Montgomery Flagg, Gene Autry, Howard Chandler Christy, and Hon. Robert Wagner. Current luminaries include the Academy Award winning actor Cliff Robertson, James Karen, Abe Vigoda, Joyce Randolph ('Trixie' of The Honeymooners), and the Tony/Emmy/Grammy Award winning conductor/arranger, Donald Pippin.

The Lambs Club at 70 West 36th Street - New York City  
130 West 44th Street in 1900  
In 1903 the Lambs Club purchased lots at 128 and 130 West 44th Street. The commission for a new clubhouse went to the firm McKim, Mead & White (all three principals were members), with Stanford White serving as architect. White designed a six-story, neo-Georgian building in brick, marble and terra cotta, with a facade ornamented with six rams' heads and two rams' profiles. On the first floor were the lobby with a bank of telephones, a grill room and billiard room; on the second floor was a banquet hall; and on the third floor a small theater. The top floors provided space for offices and sleeping quarters for members. The Lambs' clubhouse was built from 1904-05 and opened in 1905. The size of the building was doubled in 1915 when an addition to the west, a virtual copy of White's original, was constructed.

In 1974, the 44th Street building was designated by the New York City Landmarks and Preservation Commission. The next year, following financial difficulties with the club, it was sold to the Church of the Nazarene, and the Lambs Club relocated to shared space at 3 West 51st Street.
Organ in The Lambs Club at 128 West 44th Street:

The Aeolian Company
New York City – Opus 984 (1905)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 12 stops, 12 ranks

The Specification and Contract (Mar. 8, 1905) states that The Aeolian Company would build and install a two-manual organ for a consideration of $7,500, payable in cash upon the "satisfactory completion of the instrument in position." Aeolian positioned the organ in a floor space of 6 ft. 6 in. by 11 ft. that was located in the foyer at the rear of the theatre. The console containing the keyboards and Aeolienne was centrally located in front of the organ, while the blowing apparatus and motor were located in a room in the sub-celler. Aeolian stated that the organ would be set up complete and ready for use on or about August 15, 1905.
Manuael I – 61 notes, enclosed
  Principale Grande
  Flauto Primo
  Viola Pomposa
  Viol d'Amore


Manual II – 61 notes, enclosed
  Violino Primo
  Flauto Lontano
  Voce Angelica [TC]
  Flauto Minore
  Viol Sordino
  Oboe di Caccia
Pedale Organ – 30 notes
  Contra Basso
    Manuale II to Manuale I   Manuale II to Pedale
    Manuale II to Manuale I Ottava   Manuale I to Pedale
    Aeolian "Normal" Coupler   } 116 note music   Manuale I to Aeolian  }
    Aeolian "Reverse" Coupler }   Manuale II to Aeolian } 58 note music
    Aeolian Ventil   Pedale to Aeolian      }
    Aeolian Reroll    
    Aeolian Tempo      


Combination Pistons
    Three Combination Pistons (Piano, Mezzo, Forte) affecting Manual I & Pedals
    Three Combination Pistons (Piano, Mezzo, Forte) affecting Manual II & Pedals
    Balanced Crescendo Pedal    
    Balanced Swell Pedal – Manuales I and II    
     The Bookman - An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Life, Vol. XXI. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1905.
     Colby, Frank Moore, Talcott Williams and Herbert Treadwell Wade. The New International Encyclopædia. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1922.
     Dolkart, Andrew S. and Matthew A. Postal. Guide to New York City Landmarks (Third Edition). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2004.
     "Gamboling Lambs," Time (Mar. 25, 1940).
     Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes/The Lambs Club; It Was Built for Theater Folks, Gambolers All," The New York Times (Dec. 26, 1999).
     The Lambs Club web site:
     New York Architecture Images web site:
     Smith, Rollin. The Aeolian Pipe Organ and its Music. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1998.
     Trupiano, Larry. Factory Specification and Contract (Mar. 8, 1905) of Aeolian Company organ, Op. 984.
     Wilmeth, Don B. with Tice L. Miller. Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

     The Bookman - An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Life, Vol. XXI. Exterior of 70 West 36th Street.
     New York Architecture Images web site. Exterior of 130 West 44th Street.
     Wurts Bros. (New York, N.Y.). Exterior (c.1900). Collection of the Museum of the City of New York.