The last standing of Harlem's historic dance halls
The Alhambra Theatre and Ballroom began as a variety house built by Percy G. Williams, the vaudeville mogul of 1900. In 1905, the variety house was sold to the Keith Vaudeville Circuit and named the Alhambra Theatre. The premier of Lew Leslie's famous Blackbirds of 1926, starring Florence Mills and Bill Robinson, transformed the theatre into one of the major black-oriented houses during the 1920s. Legendary performers Bessie Smith, Jelly Roll Morton, Tony Award Winner Frank Manning and singing waitress, Billie Holiday, further supported the success of the venue. The presentation of the musical Hot Chocolates in 1929, before reaching Broadway, guaranteed the prominent role the Alhambra Theatre would play during the Harlem Renaissance and ultimately within the social history of America.