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Proctor’s Palace Theatre

December 11, 2012
View of the remains of the auditorium from the balcony.

View of the remains of the auditorium from the balcony.

Proctor’s Palace Theatre opened on January 31, 1916 in Yonkers, New York. The 2,300 seat theater was designed by William E. Lehman who is also known for the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey. It was built for theater magnate F.F. Proctor. Lehman designed the auditorium with a mix of French, Flemish and Italian style architecture. He is quoted as saying, “I wanted to create a building that will wear well.”  The complex also included a six story office building.

The proscenium arch was untouched during auditorium's conversion into an office space.

The proscenium arch was untouched during auditorium’s conversion into an office space.

In 1929, the Proctor theater chain was sold to the Radio Keith Orpheum Corporation.  Soon after the sale the theater was closed so renovations could be made to show motion pictures. When the theater reopened two months later, it was renamed RKO Proctor’s. During its time as a motion picture palace many stars visited the theater to promote their films, including Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Joe DeRita, Jerry Lewis, Bela Lugosi, Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine.

The seats were removed shortly after the theater closed due to an issue in the buildings fire insurance policy.

Shortly after the theater closed the seats were removed due to a clause in the building’s fire insurance policy.

The Proctor’s closed in 1973 and briefly reopened in 1974 before closing permanently the next year. After it closed, the main level of the auditorium was converted into an office space and the balcony was sealed off. The lobby of the theater was removed and converted to retail space.

Looking back at the projector room from the front of the balcony.

View of the top of the auditorium from the balcony.

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. The current owner as well as the City of Yonkers, are interested in restoring the building.

The ceiling of the auditorium.

The ceiling of the auditorium.

A closer look at some of the details on the ceiling.

A closer look at some of the details on the ceiling.

Heating ducts were added to the balcony when the theater was converted into an office space.

When the theater was converted into an office space heating ducts were added to the balcony.

When the theater opened, the area above the proscenium arch contained a mural It was painted over years before the theater closed.

The mural above the proscenium arch was painted over years before the theater closed.

Only one projector remains in the projector room.

Only a Hall & Connolly follow-spot remains in the projector room.

Film is strewn about the rewinding station.

Film is strewn about the rewinding station.

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All the plaster-work to the left and right of the stage area was removed during the conversion of the auditorium.

Another view of the auditorium from the balcony.

Another view of the auditorium from the balcony.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2012 10:57 am

    I love seeing the inside of these theaters! Great photos!

  2. December 11, 2012 11:09 am

    Love all your posts, but this one has special relevance for me. I was born in Yonkers, though I left at age 3 and never set foot in Proctor’s. I never knew about its existence until decades after I lost my accent and visited my old home again at age 36, by which time Proctor’s was converted to government offices (Public Social Services, if memory serves). So sad. Great to discover that this will be reopened. I just hope that City Hall decides to do a full and proper restoration rather than a modernization and adaptation. By the way, there is one mistake in your piece. You mention that there is only one projector left in the booth. Nope. There are no projectors left. What you caught in that snapshot was a Hall & Connolly follow-spot, a seductively lovely machine.

    • December 11, 2012 11:16 am

      Thanks Ranjit. I’ve updated the caption with the correct information.

  3. December 17, 2012 11:05 am

    I was born and raised in Yonkers, went to Saunder Trades and Tech just up the street from Proctor’s in the early 70’s and I have many happy memories of when it was a REAL movie theater.

    Had a lot of fun in the balcony, too!

    She was a grand old dame and it hurts to see what they did to her – I hope the restoration gets going, because she’s more than worth it.

  4. Everett C. Stallings permalink
    March 13, 2013 3:07 pm

    I looked this theatre up when I saw the marquee in the film “12 Crowed Hours” 1939 w/ Lucy.
    N.Y. should have a tour of restored theatres. I see they have restored 3 Lowes theatres in Brooklyn. I would love to go see them.

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