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Designed by Warren and Wetmore, the St James Theatre was built by producer Abraham L. Erlanger. The theatre opened in 1927 as The Erlanger with its inaugural production Merry Malones.
The theatre is built on the site of the original Sardi's restaurant. The Astor family took over the venue in 1930 after Erlanger's death, and renamed it the St. James Theatre in 1932.
The Shuberts took control in 1941, before relinquishing it to William L. McKnight in 1957. He then passed it on to his daughter Virginia and her husband James H. Binger in 1970, who had already formed Jujamcyn Theatres.