Architectural fragment from the exterior of the Audubon Ballroom
Overall: 32 x 19 1/2 x 14 in. (81.3 x 49.5 x 35.6 cm)
Molded terracotta architectural fragment depicting a burning torch surrounded by a caduceus. Molded background painted with white glaze; torch and flame glazed ochre with blue and white details; caduceus glazed white and framed by white and blue spiral columns. The caduceus traditionally represents the Roman God Mercury, also identified as a protector of traders, merchants, and others workers involved in commerce.
The Audubon Ballroom was a theatre and ballroom located on Broadway at 165th Street in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, north of Harlem in New York. It is best known as the site of Malcolm X's assassination on February 21, 1965. The Ballroom was built in 1912 by film producer William Fox, who later founded the Fox Film Corporation. Fox hired Thomas W. Lamb, one of the foremost American theater architects, as its designer. During its history, the Audubon Ballroom was used as a vaudeville house, a movie theater, and a meeting hall. In 1992, Columbia University began the process of demolishing the Audubon Ballroom and replacing it with the Audubon Business and Technology Center, a university-related biotechnology research park that is a public-private partnership between Columbia University Medical Center and the New York state and city governments. Historic preservation groups unsuccessfully sued to prevent its demolition, and a group of Columbia students occupied Hamilton Hallon campus in protest. Eventually, the University reached a compromise with local community groups. Under the agreement, the University restored a portion of the original façade of the Audubon Ballroom and built a museum inside to honor Malcolm X. In 2005 the University announced the opening of the museum, the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Other portions of the façade and interior were given to the Landmarks Preservation Commission as part of the agreement.
Gift of Landmarks Preservation Commission
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.