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.
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 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.
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.
18 thoughts on “Proctor’s Palace Theatre”
I love seeing the inside of these theaters! Great photos!
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.
Thanks Ranjit. I’ve updated the caption with the correct information.
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.
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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I left Yonkers at age 18 to join the Air Force in 1973. I spent many Saturday afternoons in this theater in the ’60’s and early ’70’s. $.75 cents for two movies and cartoons.
I also went to Saunders further down South Broadway.
Hi Ed. My parents loved going their they always talked about the movie and cartoons you got to see for alittle money. My dad just passed and y family are talking about hike and my mom going there
I’m sorry, I know this is an old post, but do you know if the film is still there? It’s amazing this theater has remained intact. I would love to see what film those reels belong to.
The scribblings on the blackboard might refer to Born to Kill (1974, originally titled Cockfighter) and Jackson County Jail (1976).
I’ve lived in Yonkers for 20 years now and I didn’t know about the restoration efforts for this theater. I wish that they could restore the Kimball Theater, or even the Kent. But it feels like those theaters are long gone and no one cares 😦
As far as I know all of the film is still there. It has been a few years though so I could be wrong. Didn’t the Kimball Theatre burn down in the early 2000s?
Well as it currently is now, the Kimball still has it’s outer facade but the interior has been gutted due to the damages from the fire.
This is a photo of how the theatre currently looks today. There were talks of turning it into an apartment complex but from what I read online, there are rumblings that those plans might not be moving as quickly as they had hoped. There might be something wrong with the building (an exposed gasline?) that’s making contractors pause a bit.
Yeah, I think the Proctor’s has the best chance of being renovated out of the other theaters in Yonkers. Hopefully whoever redevelops the remains of the Kimball keeps the Facade.
Yup you’re probably right about that, unfortunately. That said, there’s also Central Cinemas (adjacent to Alamo Drafthouse) that could always be renovated. It stands a bigger chance than most, though it seems it’s space might be used for a gym. We could always use more theaters, in my opinion 🙂
I always forget about the Drafthouse.
Wanted to add that there was also the Loews and Strandt within this area. The other theater in question was demolished to make way for a McDonalds. There is a photo of the Loews that was taken by vaudeville team Barto and Mann in 1931.
Here’s the link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brad_smith/5457455628/in/set-72157623906403776/
Per the last comment…there were 2 other nearby demo’d theatres on either side of Proctor’s. The one replaced by McD’s was “Brandt’s” (Loew’s chain.), about 1000′ south of Proctor’s ; about 100′ north was the “Strand”. I never saw the Strand open during the 60’s when I grew up nearby. Then about 1970, an enterprise attempted to open it up for live stage plays for a very short time. (I seem to remember that one play was to star Imogene Coca.) As far as stars appearing live to bolster attendance of their films showing at Proctor’s, I was there with my 8mm to film Bob Hope and Lucille Ball ; (you do the research to decide which 60s films they starred in together that may have been showing.) I was also there to film Disney star Tommy Kirk on another date. So, add those names to your star appearances. Oh….I almost forgot…my daddy once said that Harry Houdini once hung from the roof on a long rope several stories over the street, upside down and in a straight-jacket, performing one of his many escape scenarios!
I think I lived in Yonkers, NY until I was 9 years old. Of course that was in the 40’s. I loved going to the movies. I remember that there were 3 theaters on the same block that I use to go to, the Strand, RKO Proctor, and the Lowes. What fond memories I have of those theater days.
How nice to read your post! I was also at the performance when Bob Hope and Lucille Ball appeared! I remember there was a marching band marching down the aisles. How exciting it was! It was a beautiful theater as was Brandt’s down the road. If my memory serves me, Brandt’s also had a magnificent organ.
The Strand became the YONKERS PLAYHOUSE. You’re correct; Imogene Coca appeared there as did Tom Poston, Van Johnson and Jayne Mansfield. I remember going to a matinee of the Four Seasons. Only about 10 people showed up! They refused to go on and we were given tickets for the evening show! Yonkers had at least 5 movie theaters, RKO, Brandt’s, Parkhill, Kent and Kimball. I also remember taking the bus up to Hastings or over to Bronxville.