Proctor’s Troy Theatre

Proctor's Troy Theatre - Troy, NY

View of the Proctor’s Troy Theatre from the side of the upper balcony.

The Proctor’s Troy Theatre opened as the Proctor’s Fourth Street Theatre on November 23, 1914 in Troy, NY. It was designed by architect Arlard Johnson and built by the Charles P. Boland Company for F. F. Proctor. The 2,283 seat theater cost $325,000 to build and was the largest of Proctor’s theaters in New York State when it opened. The building is five stories tall and in addition to the theater, contains space for offices and retail.

Mural - Proctor's Troy Theatre

This mural of Lafayette’s visit to Troy in 1824 was painted by artist David Lithgow.

The theater, as with many others at the time, opened as a vaudeville house, but was later converted to show motion pictures. In the late 1920’s a projection room was added to the top balcony. Later, the middle chandelier was removed to allow for better viewing of the movies. Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Fred and Adele Astaire were just some of the acts who came to the Proctor’s over the years.

View of the upper balcony level.

View of the upper balcony level.

The Proctor’s Fourth Street Theatre was later added to the Fabian chain of movie theaters and the name was changed to the Proctor’s Troy Theatre. During the 1960’s the theater began playing second run films. When it closed in 1977, less than 40 people attended the final movie screening. A year later the City of Troy foreclosed on the owners and took possession of the theater. Over the years various projects were considered for the site, including a hotel and a new City Hall.

Instead of stairs Proctor’s Troy has a set of concrete ramps that lead to the two balcony levels.

In 2000, the Friends of the Proctor’s Troy Theater was formed to raise public awareness about the theater and to try to restore it as a performing arts center. The Friends of the Proctor’s closed when the building was purchased by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2004. RPI planned to use the building as an office space and a theater, but was unable to raise the funds.  It was later sold to Columbia Development Companies, who currently plan to abate the theater and preserve it until it can be fully restored.

The refreshment stand in the lobby was added years after the theater opened.

Chandelier - Proctor's Troy Theatre

A close up of one of the remaining chandeliers.

Unlike the balcony seats, which are wooden, the seats on the main level of the theater have upholstered backs and are cushioned.

Curtain - Proctor's Troy

A closer look at the curtain.

This ornate plaster work was originally painted gold, but it was painted over when the theater converted to show movies.

View of the auditorium from the main floor.

View of the auditorium from the main floor.

Hallway Proctor's Troy Troy, NY

One of the entrances to the upper balcony.

Upper Balcony Proctor's Troy Theatre

View of the Proctor’s Troy Theatre from the upper balcony.

Entrance to the Proctor's Troy in Troy, NY

The top of the building features two towers each with marble columns and gargoyle like figures.


25 thoughts on “Proctor’s Troy Theatre

  1. I’m so amazed at how in tact it has remained and how beautiful it must have been in it’s day. It’s even more awesome and bigger than I remembered. In the 60s it was dark for the movies and could have used a paint job to brighten it up then. I’m so happy it is being restored. It could be Troy’s crown jewel again. I’m so glad it was not destroyed and very grateful that some good people stepped in to save it.

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  3. One of my fond childhood memories during the sixties was a weekly visit to Proctor’s in my home town of Troy. At the time, Proctor’s was showing Disney movies for matinee viewing. My neighborhood pal’s dad was a police officer and he would get us in for free! I remember the theater had (unused) side loges, red carpeted (concrete) ramps to the balcony and the upper balcony seemed very high above the screen. Coming out of Proctor’s in the late afternoon, the city was alive with stores, shops and activity. I no longer live in Troy, but occasionally visit my old home town. I am saddened sometimes by the decline of this old industrial town. I pray for a renaissance in communities, towns and cities like Troy. I hope the old Proctor’s Theater in Troy is restored and becomes a show piece for this beleaguered city. Troy is famous for its colleges, but very few graduates are interested in staying in the community, because Troy is viewed in a negative light. The city of Troy has had difficulty over the last several years competing with more modern (developed) areas such as Latham and Colonie, which feature commuter based businesses and Malls. I appeal to everyone out there to invest in your community. Make an effort to get involved and take pride in your town. Restoring classic theaters (and other historic buildings) like Proctor’s in Troy can be an important cultural and community investment for cities and towns like Troy, NY.

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  5. hello matts
    we bought this picture at the Sakura Gallery (the number1).
    Nice to hve the story, thank you, we like your job.
    we hope to see you one time in France.
    philippe Fourcade

    • Hi Philippe,

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked reading the history of the Proctor’s Troy. I’ll be heading to France in the next few years, and I’ll be sure to let you know.

  6. Pingback: FOCUS ON 2013 CONCLAVE: Proctor’s Theater, Troy | Theatre Historical Society Readerboard

  7. Matt,
    Do you know if the curtain is actually a thread-bare and aged piece of fabric, or if it is actually a painted asbestos fire-curtain? I know many theaters from that era have quite elaborately painted fire-curtains.

    Either way, it’s an incredible image. I’m quite envious that you got to witness it in person.

    • Paul,

      I believe it was a painted asbestos fire-curtain. The Proctor’s in Troy is a fantastic space, and I hope it is renovated and reopened soon.

  8. I saw my very first movie (Disney’s The Aristocats) in Troy’s Proctor’s theater. In it’s heyday, it was one of the most beautiful theaters in the United States. I have always dreamed that someone would come along and restore it to it’s bygone splendor. I guess, for as long as it remains standing, I can always hold out hope. Thank you for providing these photos!

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  10. It is nice to see pictures of the old Proctors. I only went there a few times in the late 50’s. I understand that some of the schools held graduation there since it was so large. It would be nice if Troy would do more to restore instead of cheap trendy “fix’s” They have so much to offer like the staircase up to RPI from downtown, the beautiful staircase in the old Frear’s and that is only a few examples. Look what they did to Proctor’s in Schenectady. It made the city a real destination. Jim

  11. A few years later… but the debate goes on. As far as I know, the theatre has been mothballed until come money for real conservation efforts can be pulled together. It is an amazing space. And really… we’ve lost too much of the beauty that once surrounded us–too many things are just “functional” without being appealing as well.

  12. I recently came across some original 1927 photos taken in the lobby of Proctors. It appears that there is a very similar painting (as the one over the stage), in an arch, over the lobby entry doors. That probably has been painted-over as well, but might be interesting to see if it is still there.
    A major demonstration of The Victor Talking Machine Company’s “Auditorium Orthophonic” reproduction system was held at Proctors in 1927, and of course the company advertised its product line in the lobby (along with local dealer info). This was an “across the country” demonstration tour where Victor was trying to compete with the then-dominant Western Electric movie playback systems. Good description here:

    • There’s one in the theater as you walk in from the lobby, and one that was on the ceiling in the lobby itself. The one on the lobby ceiling was painted over, and had fallen to the floor when I was there. The owners left it there hoping that one day the paint could be removed.

      The Proctor’s Troy is in my upcoming book, and I go into the Victor “Auditorium Orthophonic” in detail in there.

      I’d love to see some of the 1927 photos of the Proctor’s btw.

  13. I will scan and include pictures. One is just a fragment and in really bad shape. It could very well be that the one I can see in a reflection behind the Victor Display is the one you mention on the lobby ceiling. Hard to tell for certain, but it is of a similar theme but very different from the one over the stage. I can see what appear to be large doors beneath it. The form-factor is in an arch, just like the one over the stage.
    Victor held a nationwide tour of the Auditorium Ortho Horn in 1927, and according to Talking Machine World (August, 1927), the Tri-Cities area “show and tell” at different venues was completed in the late summer. Albany’s was held in a city park.
    An almost complete Auditorium Ortho Horn has been discovered in Maryland, and there will be a public demo in November. We don’t know of any other survivors at the present time. Some of the horn elements were missing, and they tried to replicate them with newer components, but we are not certain how accurately this was done. A really good article on the subject appears in a recent Antique Phonograph Society magazine (let me know if you need specifics).

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