Edwin Booth’s Prop Maker, 1904

The following is a continuation of a newspaper article about the property shop of E. L. Morse on Twenty-ninth Street in New York City. The article first appeared in The New York Times on May 8, 1904, and Mr. Morse’s property shop is long gone. I have previously posted the introduction and another portion of this article as well.

With all its reminders of bygone days and forgotten favorites, perhaps the quaintest and most interesting feature of the cob-webbed room is its master. Actors grow into fame and fade away into oblivion, while a property master holds his position and reputation secure. Mr. Morse is a survivor of the days that chroniclers are wont to call “the good old times.” He was property master of Edwin Booth’s Theatre, on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Twenty-third Street, and was the right-hand man of that famous actor—in a mechanical way…

Though his hair is turned gray, this designer, engraver, and maker of properties is as active as he was before any of the present theatrical celebrities were known. He knows, perhaps, more about the physical characteristics of New York’s playhouses than any other man living. In many of them he has worked, and every stage carpenter or worker of any importance is among his acquaintances.

For five years, since he quit the theatres and set up an establishment for the manufacture of properties, he has made all the “props” for Richard Mansfield. A list of the plays he has furnished would included practically all the big successes in recent years.

He and several of his assistants are now hard at work making gondolas, vases, and all sorts of fanciful animals’ heads for a musical comedy that is to be put on before long. It is a mystery how they manage to do anything in such a crowded place. There is hardly room to walk about, so littered is the floor with all kinds of material—a stranger calls it “rubbish.” Overhead are suspended from the ceiling vases, cloth elephants, trumpets, monstrous reptiles, and all conceivable kinds of stage ornaments—nearly everything made of papier maché.

This article first appeared in the New York Times, May 8, 1904.

One thought on “Edwin Booth’s Prop Maker, 1904”

Comments are closed.