The Columns Club tours Grand Central Terminal; Courtesy of the New York Preservation Archive Project

The Columns Club consists of supporters ages 21-40 who donate $75 or more annually and are invited to special tours of historic places, archives, and exhibitions.

The Columns Club is an exciting way to engage a new generation of New Yorkers in the Archive Project’s important mission. Founded in 2014, the Columns Club—consisting of young professionals ages 21-40 who donate $75 or more annually—are invited to behind-the-scenes tours of historic sites and archives throughout New York City. These unique experiences have been created to appeal to the wide-ranging tastes of this multi-faceted group. The inaugural event was an after-hours flashlight tour of the nooks and crannies of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, a Dutch Colonial-style structure that is the last remaining farmhouse on the island of Manhattan. The growing troupe of Columnists has taken a private tour of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and a twilight streetcar visit through Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, ending with wine, cheese and a look through the archives! The group has also explored one of New York City’s greatest icons, Grand Central Terminal, and one of its most secret gems, the Grand Masonic Lodge.

If you are interested in joining this hearty crew of urban explorers, please donate here or contact us with any questions.

Above: The Columns Club tours Grand Central Terminal; Courtesy of the New York Preservation Archive Project
Detail of a photograph of the Apollo Theater in 1955; Courtesy of G. Marshall Wilson/Ebony Collection/AP

Tour of the Apollo Theater

The Columns Club’s latest tour was of the iconic Apollo Theater with Billy Mitchell, AKA “Mr. Apollo,” the theater’s official historian!

The Apollo Theater is one of Harlem’s, New York City’s, and America’s most iconic and enduring music halls, a noted venue for African-American performers, and the home of Showtime at the Apollo, a nationally-syndicated variety show which showcased new talent, from 1987 to 2008. The theater, designed by George Keister in the neo-Classical style, opened its doors in 1914 as the New Burlesque Theater, but only first began admitting black patrons in 1934, when it officially became known as the Apollo. 

Many of the world’s greatest musicians and entertainers have graced the Apollo’s stage, giving it a starring role at the epicenter of American popular culture and launching the careers of countless superstars, including Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, and Lauryn Hill (just to name a few!). In 1983, both the interior and exterior of the building were designated as New York City Landmarks, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In the 2000s, restorations were completed and in 2009, in celebration of the Apollo’s 75th anniversary, the theater began creating an archive of historic material and embarked on an oral history project.

This guided visit offered behind-the-scenes access to the legendary venue and explored the history of the Apollo Theater through the entertaining and inspiring storytelling of Billy “Mr. Apollo” Mitchell. Afterward the group went for a cocktail at Chocolat, where Archive Project board member and Harlem historian John Reddick shared some memorabilia from the Apollo’s storied history.

Join the Columns Club today to gain access to future tours such as this!

Above: Detail of a photograph of the Apollo Theater in 1955; Courtesy of G. Marshall Wilson/Ebony Collection/AP