The Albert Schumann Theater, also commonly called Schumanntheater or Circus Schumann, was an Art Nouveau theater and variety opposite the main train station in Frankfurt am Main. It was built in 1905 and destroyed during the air raids on Frankfurt am Main in 1944 by aerial bombs with the exception of the head building. Until 1958, the restaurants were used by the American armed forces. In 1960, the externally undamaged head building of the Schumanntheater was demolished and replaced by an inconspicuous office building.
The Schumanntheater was one of the few large buildings in Frankfurt in the beginning of the Art Nouveau era. Behind a monumental façade of white sandstone, flanked by two towers and adorned with numerous statues and building sculptures, a large entrance hall opened up, above it a spacious foyer. Numerous artists contributed to the design of the building, including the sculptor Joseph Uphues (1851-1911), who created the bronze pediment group of the “Rossebändigers”, and the Frankfurt landscape painter Alfred Helberger (1871-1946).
There were several restaurants in the theater. In the left wing of the ground floor there was a wine restaurant in Louis Seize style, on the right a Dutch cafe and the liqueur room Mampe. Under the whole building stretched a nearly 150 meter long beer tunnel, which served in the war because of its bomb safety as an air-raid shelter.
The large auditorium had a 28-meter high dome under which high-wire artists often performed. In front of the stage was a kind of amphitheater that could be used as a moat or, if covered, as a circus ring. Under the stage was a stable for 150 horses.
In 1893/94 the Vienna-based circus director Albert Schumann (1858-1939) first performed with his circus in Frankfurt am Main. For this appearance, a provisional building was built in the then largely undeveloped station district between Taunusstraße, Kaiserstraße, Weser and Elbestraße. Because of the great success Schumann planned to build a solid circus building in Frankfurt. To finance it, he founded the stock corporation for circus and theater construction based in Berlin and Frankfurt. It acquired an approximately 5300 square meter area at the station forecourt.
The Berlin architects Friedrich Kristeller and Hugo Sonnenthal designed a building suitable for theater, circus and variety shows. On September 20, 1904, the construction of the Albert Schumann Theater began, which was always called Schumanntheater among visitors and the media.
The construction cost was four million marks, an enormous sum for the time. The result was a theater with the latest technology, big enough for 4,500 spectators. After the Berlin Circus Renz it was the second permanent circus building in Germany.
On 5 December 1905 the Schumanntheater was opened. The first director was the predator-trainer Julius Seeth. Schumann remained on the board and often appeared even in guest appearances with his horse dressings, most recently in 1926.
The program of the Schumanntheater included a yearly circus, a month of operetta and ten months of variety. After the First World War, the focus shifted even further from circus to vaudeville. The Schumanntheater was extremely popular with the public and was able to pay high salaries. Especially in the 1920s, the theater experienced a heyday. Otto Reutter appeared for a monthly salary of 15 000 Marks and inspired his audience with a elfstrophigen couplet with the refrain There is only one Frankfurt am Main. The clowns Charlie Rivel and Grock, the cabaret artist Claire Waldoff, the juggler Rastelli, the humorist Adam Müller, called Millerche, the artist group of the three Cordonas and the clowns Fratellinis appeared.
In Schumanntheater but also numerous classical artists, including the Pavlova worked. In the winter of 1930, the theater had to close for a few months due to the Great Depression. With a successful review Hello Paris 1931 it got back to the old successes.
On March 22, 1944, the heaviest bombing raid of the Second World War occurred on Frankfurt. The entire historic old town and a large part of the city center was destroyed. The Schumann Theater was hit by bombs that destroyed the auditorium and the stage; However, the head structure remained intact.
In 1945, the American army seized the building. She used the preserved restaurants until 1958 as recreational facilities for her soldiers. After the return, there were first plans to rebuild the variety, but failed due to the high cost and uncertain economic prospects in the early television epoch. Thus, the remained part of the Schumann Theater demolished in 1960. In its place was created in 1965 an architecturally insignificant commercial building.
Only since 1987 or 1988 there are again variety shows in Frankfurt with the New Theater Höchst and the Tigerpalast.
Am Hauptbahnhof 16
60329 Frankfurt am Main
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