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Proctor’s Palace Theatre

March 23, 2011

View from the mezzanine at Proctor’s Palace Theatre

RKO Proctor’s Theatre opened in Newark, NJ on November 25, 1915 as the Proctor’s Palace Theatre. The architect was John W. Merrow, the nephew of Proctor theater circuit owner Frederick F. Proctor.

The Palace was a double decker theater, which meant that one auditorium was stacked on top of the other, a rare design choice at the time.  The lower, street-level auditorium had 2,300 seats and the upper had around 900.   The space was among the largest and most open in the area, leading the city to use it as the site of it’s 250th anniversary celebration in 1916.

Popcorn machine

An antique popcorn machine

Originally, the Palace was a vaudeville theater. The theater eventually switched over to exclusively movie showings, but the occasional vaudeville show — such as Bela Lugosi’s“Horror and Magic Show”  — still played there.

Shortly before his death in 1929 F.F. Proctor sold his company to Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corporation (“RKO”), and the name of the theater was changed to RKO Proctor’s Theatre.

Third level of the Proctors Palace

Third level of the Proctor’s Palace

The Palace was closed in 1968 when RKO merged with Stanley Warner, who owned Newark’s larger and more profitable Branford Theater.  The lobby has been renovated and is currently used as a shoe store.  The rest of the building remains vacant and after years of neglect has started to collapse.

Projector room

The remains of the projector room

Due to the ceiling collapsing, nothing is left of the main level

Scaffolding behind the stage

Top Level Proctors Palace Theatre

View from the top balcony at Proctor’s Palace Theatre

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Mysterea permalink
    March 23, 2011 2:49 pm

    Incredible stuff, thank you for sharing!

  2. ArcAngel permalink
    March 23, 2011 9:13 pm

    Great as usual. That place looks dangerous to be walking around in though!

  3. March 25, 2011 5:48 pm

    What an astounding body of work you’ve compiled. This series of photos is just incredible, and I love the accompanying blog entry for it. I agree with ArcAngel, though, this work looks to be incredibly dangerous!! But regardless, if not for you photographing all this, the entire block of history would soon just be a whispered tale… I am so happy I found you on Twitter and really look forward to your posts. Great work.

  4. April 1, 2011 4:34 pm

    Incredibly sad. It was probably magnificent back in the day.

  5. Jose Ruiz permalink
    May 2, 2011 4:51 pm

    I have a fascination with old theaters. I don’t know why. Everytime I see evidence of a former movie house I get a lump in my throat. It’s so sad to see so many now doing time as supermarkets or cheap bargain stores. I went to see the Adams in Newark and asked if I could take pictures but I was sent away.

    • May 6, 2011 11:17 am

      I’m the same way. I’m constantly pointing out places that used to be theaters to my friends. The Adams is a tough one, hopefully one day they’ll let people take a look at what is left.

    • India Fox permalink
      May 24, 2012 5:24 am

      I share your though’s and feelings, not only for those palace called theaters, but for the old buildings as well, they have such a magnificent art all over and is so sad for me tho see many of them abandoned they should restore them but not to be used as a swap meet or cheap stores, how bout as a dance, music or art school.
      I wish I where millionaire to buy as many as I could and restore them to their original magnificence.

  6. May 29, 2011 1:55 pm

    I like your blog, I’ve seen many of your posts and it’s incredible how many abandoned theaters there are. Great to imagine how they looked like when they weren’t abandoned. Very entertaining!

  7. Karl permalink
    November 18, 2011 2:29 pm

    I went to these theaters years ago and they were palaces, not like the cookie cutter theaters of today. It saddens me to see these buildings today. If you see what business are in front of these buildings now, you’ll really be sad. At least we can go to the Lowes in Jersey City and experience what a classic movie house was like.

  8. Bob permalink
    September 20, 2012 6:53 pm

    Great shots ! I was wondering if anyone has any photos of the original (1915) exterior or interior of the building ??

    • Julie permalink
      March 20, 2014 1:38 am

      Visit, which may have earlier photos of these theatres. And the Newark Museum and Newark Library.

  9. Ryan permalink
    November 15, 2012 9:39 am

    Originally, the Palace was a vaudeville theater ?


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