Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fillmore East, 105 Second Avenue, New York, NY

13th President of The United States
Where did Bill Graham come up with the name "Fillmore"? And why?

Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th President of the United States (1850–1853) and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president.

Abigail Powers Fillmore, wife of Millard Fillmore

Upon graduating from high school at 16, young Abigail was hired to replace the school's teacher, where she fell in love with one of her students, Millard Fillmore. He was two years younger than she, and due to their poverty she continued to work as a teacher after their marriage.
She encouraged him to attend law school, and became an accomplished hostess as he rose to become a Congressman, then state comptroller. He became Vice President in 1849, and assumed the American Presidency when Zachary Taylor died in 1850. She preferred reading to almost any other activity, and upon moving into the White House she was startled to find that there were next to no books in the building -- not even a dictionary or a Bible. Previous Presidential families had brought their own books, but taken those books with them when they left. She petitioned Congress for funding to establish a permanent White House Library, and is sometimes credited as the first White House librarian. At heart, though, she was always a teacher -- in correspondence with their children, she repeatedly corrected their spelling and grammar.
She enjoyed deep, philosophical conversations, which she described as "mental treats". Somewhat outspoken politically for a woman of her era, she believed women should be granted equal rights, and her urging is credited with helping to end the practice of flogging in the US Navy. She advised her husband not to sign the Fugitive Slave Law (which required that runaway slaves be returned to their owners, even across state lines), warning that if he signed it he would never be re-elected. He did sign the bill into law, and was not even nominated for re-election by his own party.
In 1853, she accompanied her husband to the inauguration of the next President, Franklin Pierce, enduring his speech amidst wind-whipped snow. She contracted bronchial pneumonia, and died a few weeks later.
The Fillmore family line ended with Millard and Abigail Fillmore's two children. Their daughter died of cholera when she was only 22 and unmarried. Their son, Millard Powers Fillmore, was a lifelong bachelor and a good friend of Grover Cleveland, who described him as "odd in many ways...". Per his will, all of the younger Millard Fillmore's papers and correspondence were destroyed after his death, fueling speculation that he might have been homosexual.

Fillmore and Geary is the street location of the original and current Fillmore, San Francisco.

The theatre that became the Fillmore East was originally built as a Yiddish theater in 1926, a time when this part of Second Avenue was known as the "Jewish Rialto"[2] because of the numerous theatres that catered to a Yiddish-speaking audience.

In addition to this theater, Harrison G. Wiseman (1878-January 12, 1945) was the architect of 23 theaters in Brooklyn and New York, NY.

When it opened in 1926, the Commodore was the largest of the 10 movie theatres in operation on Second Avenue between Houston and 9th Street. It eventually was taken over by Loews Inc. and became a movie theatre, the Loews Commodore. Martin Scorsese states that during his childhood he saw many films at Loew’s Commodore for the first time, including “On The Waterfront.” It was one of the Second Avenue theatres he often frequented. It later became the Village Theatre.
Alfred Hitchcock's classic, Psycho, was played at the Village Theater. As Fred Pfisterer recalls, "The theater manager advertised that a real nurse would be on hand for all showings in case any member of the audience became so frightened that they passed out or had a heart attack. The gimmick worked because it drew sold-out crowds to the theater for months."

In 1967, New York City's WOR-FM was the vanguard of alternative music. The station throws a first anniversary bash at The Village Theater. Popular journalist and deejay Rosko entertains the audience with his humor during set changes. Scheduled between other popular groups of the period, the Doors become the highlight of both shows when they explode into two dynamic and forceful performances which literally shake the theater with their intimidating volume. Particularly captivating is their commanding execution of the Alabama Song, which captures the essence of Brecht & Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.
This is the first of two Doors' appearances at The Village Theater, the other being on September 9.
Also performing at the WOR Anniversary bash were Janis Ian, The Blues Project, The Chambers Brothers, Richie Havens and Jeremy & the Satyrs. Emcees included Rosko, Scott Muni, (formerly of WABC-AM, soon to be premiere deejay at WNEW-FM) Johnny Michaels, Jim Lounsbury and Murray the K.

Sometime later, it was purchased by Bill Graham Presents, and re-opened as the Fillmore East on March 8, 1968, featuring Big Brother and The Holding Company. The Doors would play the Fillmore East later that month. This venue provided Graham with an East Coast counterpart to his existing Fillmore West establishment in San Francisco.
The Fillmore East quickly became known as "The Church of Rock and Roll," with two-show concerts several nights a week. Known as the Village Theater for most of its previous existence, the venue had been a mainstay of the Yiddish theatre circuit; it had also been a cinema and had fallen into disrepair before Graham's acquisition. Despite the deceptively small marquee and fa├žade, the theater had a capacity of 2,632 seats.

In the spring of 1970, Miles Davis opens for the Steve Miller Band, and Neil Young & Crazy Horse. He played some wild rhythms and electronic music that left the audience a bit confused.

Ratner's 2nd Ave was next to the Fillmore East (now a bank) and as such became a nighttime hangout for rock-n-roll legends like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and The Grateful Dead. The "R" is still embedded in Met Foods' floor. It's hard to find images of this long-lost Ratner's, but if you search for the better-memorialized "Fillmore East" you will see its neon sign shining next door. In this photo, you can see Ratner's awning...

Here is a list of all shows performed at the Fillmore East:

Due to changes in the music and exponential growth in the concert industry, Graham closed down the Fillmore East, with its final concert taking place June 27, 1971.
Last one

On December 7, 1974, Barry Stuart (Stein), reopened the venue as the NFE Theatre – "NFE" standing for "New Fillmore East" – with a concert presenting Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
Courtesy of

It operated through 1975, but was renamed the "Village East", supposedly due to objections from Bill Graham over the use of the Fillmore name.

In 1980, the former Fillmore East site on Second Avenue in the East Village became the trend-setting private gay club The Saint. Many (mostly white) gay men still have happy memories of dancing from midnight till noon at the extravagant club.
Tragically, by 1985 AIDS had killed nearly half the Saint’s regulars; colloquially, it became known as “Saint’s disease.”  In an effort to keep going, the club started to allow in straight people.(1)
This continued until May 2, 1988 when the doors closed following a non-stop 48 hours party.

Free Lance Star, 10/27/95, page 2

The building was used spasmodically for a couple of years for live events, then stood empty for a few years until the auditorium was demolished in 1997.

Today the narrow facade remains and the lobby is now remodeled as an Emigrant Savings Bank. Apartments/condos called Hudson East were constructed on the site of the auditorium. In the lobby of the bank are pictures of the Fillmore, Village Theater and Loews Commodore Theatre as well as some posters from the Fillmore days.

As of 2007, the former entrance lobby is a branch of Emigrant Savings Bank. The rest of the interior has been gutted and rebuilt as an apartment complex.

This blog: has quite a bit of information also.

Jerry performed here on:
6/14/68 early and late Grateful Dead
6/15/68 early and late Grateful Dead
2/11/69 early and late Grateful Dead
2/12/69 Grateful Dead
6/20/69 Grateful Dead
6/21/69 early and late Grateful Dead
9/26/69 Grateful Dead
9/27/69 Grateful Dead
1/2/70 early and late Grateful Dead
1/3/70 early and late Grateful Dead
2/11/70 early and late Grateful Dead
2/13/70 early and late Grateful Dead
2/14/70 early and late Grateful Dead
5/15/70 early and late shows New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
7/9/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
7/10/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
7/11/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
7/12/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
9/17/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
9/18/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
9/19/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
9/20/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
11/16/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
4/25/71 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
4/26/71 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
4/27/71 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
4/28/71 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
4/29/71New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead

1.)^Falzone, Catherine, (2010). the many lives of 105 second avenue, researching greenwich village history
2.)^ White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0812931076.
3.)^Mkolesar, comments, 2010-09-14,
4.)^Siegel, Allison, 202-03-15, Live at the Fillmore east,
6.)^J. Hoberman,
8.)^Brewster and Broughton, Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life, 1999.
9.)^Miller, Terry, Greenwich Village and How It Got That Way, 1990.
42.)^New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York:Wiley, 2009. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.67
43.)^White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0812931076.


  1. There are a few factual errors in this account. For the record, the FE had a total 2,632 seats only. The original Graham venue was the Fillmore Auditorium at Fillmore and Geary Streets in San Francisco. When Graham had to vacate the Fillmore Auditorium he took over the Carousel Ballroom (with the urging of the Grateful Dead who managed it and couldn't cope) and renamed it Fillmore West.

    The Fillmore East was torn down in 1997.

    Amalie R. Rothschild

  2. Hi Amalie!
    I had no idea anyone was reading the blog. Thank you so much for correcting those points. I'll make the changes.
    Can you shed any light on the 1926 Commodore Theater era of the building?

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.