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New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Alexander’s Musee

America’s First Great Black Comedian – Billy Kersands

 

— 317 Bowery —

 
Alexander’s Musee Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 12, 2016
1. Alexander’s Musee Marker
Inscription.  You are standing at the former site of Alexander’s Musee, a popular dime museum that in 1886 presented the singer/dancer/acrobat/musician/comedian Billy Kersands, the first African American performer to achieve nationwide popularity with White as well as Black audiences. Though controversial because of his minstrelsy roots, his fame and status as a headliner helped forge the emergence of African American performers in mainstream entertainment.

Alexander’s was also where folk hero Steve Brodie first appeared after claiming to have survived a leap off the Brooklyn Bridge. (See 114 Bowery) The façade of this 1883 building incorporates Wyoming stone trim and brick into an eclectic Victorian composition. Look for the initials “HB” for owner Herman Bruns, cast into the second story of the two-story cast iron front and in the bowed fire escape. The building now houses the Bowery Residents’ Committee, formed in 1971 to provide comprehensive residential and outpatient programs for formerly homeless men.

-Michell Grubler, Chair, Landmarks Committee Bowery Alliance of Neighbors
 
Erected
Alexander’s Musee Marker site image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 15, 2016
2. Alexander’s Musee Marker site
317 Bowery
2016 by Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.
 
Location. 40° 43.52′ N, 73° 59.519′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is on Bowery near Bleeker Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 317 Bowery, New York NY 10003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. World’s Smallest Opera House (here, next to this marker); CBGB (a few steps from this marker); Then You Saw It/Now You Don’t (a few steps from this marker); Hats, Hardware & Horses (within shouting distance of this marker); Tin Palace Jazz Club (within shouting distance of this marker); Secret Cemetery Secret Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); Bouwerie Lane Theater (within shouting distance of this marker); Casting At The Cast Iron Bank: (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
 
More about this marker. One of more than sixty entries in the “Windows on the Bowery” series.
 
Categories. African AmericansArchitectureEntertainment
 
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 12, 2016
3. Inset
The "HB" cast into the façade.
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 12, 2016
4. Inset
“Our memory of Kersands is his outrageous humor. In reality, he was a sophisticated businessman and entrepreneur; one of the few African-Americans who could negotiate his own contract on his own terms and conditions.”
Leewood Sloane, Cultural Historian
 

More. Search the internet for Alexander’s Musee.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 20, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 20, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 72 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 20, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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