Keith-Albee Theatre, or RKO Keith’s Theater

balcony of keith's theatre
View from the balcony of the Keiths Theatre

The RKO Keith’s Theatre, originally called the Keith-Albee Theatre, opened Christmas Day, 1928 at 1:00 PM.  Located in Flushing, Queens, it was designed by Thomas W. Lamb, an architect known for his theater designs, which can also be seen in New York’s Ziegfeld Theatre and Proctor’s 58th Street (which was built simultaneously with the Keith’s).

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Loew’s Kings Theatre – Brooklyn, NY

I’ve decided to expand my post on the Kings Theatre into 4-5 parts using some excerpts from my book, Kings Theatre; The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Brooklyn’s Wonder Theatre. Find out more about the book here. This original post will remain, and the first part in the new series can be viewed here.

 

View of the auditorium from the center of the main level.

 

Loew’s Kings Theatre opened on September 7, 1929 in Brooklyn, NY, and was designed by the architectural firm of Rapp and Rapp (also known for the Paramount Theater in Times Square) and decorated by Harold W. Rambush.  It was operated by the Loew’s theaters chain, and, along with the Loew’s Jersey Theatre, Loew’s Paradise Theatre, the Loew’s Valencia Theatre and the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre, it was one of the five “Loew’s Wonder Theaters” in the New York metropolitan area.

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Proctor’s Palace Roof Theatre

View of the auditorium from the balcony.
View of the auditorium from the balcony.

Located on the top of Proctor’s Palace Theatre, Proctor’s Palace Roof Theatre also opened on November 22, 1915.  The Palace was originally used for smaller vaudeville productions before switching over to film at around the same time as its downstairs counterpart.

Two photographs of the auditorium taken almost exactly 5 years apart.
Two photographs of the auditorium taken almost exactly 5 years apart.

After the switch, the Roof Theatre was rarely used and eventually reopened in the early 1960s as the Penthouse Cinema, mainly showing foreign films like Ingmar Bergman’s “Secrets of Women.”

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Proctor’s Palace Theatre

View from the center of the mezzanine.
View from the center of the mezzanine.

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.

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Orpheum Theatre

Want to see the Orpheum for yourself? I’m hosting a photography workshop at the theater soon. 

View of the Orpheum Theatre auditorium from the balcony.
View of the Orpheum Theatre auditorium from the balcony.

The Orpheum Theatre opened on April 15, 1912  —  the same day the Titanic sank. Located on Water Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts, it was part of a Beaux-Arts building that was built in 1910 by a French-Canadian group known as Le Club des Francs-Tireurs (The French Sharpshooters Club).  The building’s official name is La Salle Francs Tireurs, or French Sharpshooters Hall.

Local architect Louis Destremps —  known for his work on the Notre Dame De Lourdes church in Fall River, Massachusetts — designed the building, which included the theater, a ballroom, a shooting range, a gymnasium, retail space and various office and meeting spaces. The Ballroom and Theater served as revenue for the club.

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After the Final Curtain

I’ve been exploring and photographing abandoned buildings for several years,
but nothing has fascinated me more than abandoned theaters. After the Final Curtain is a photographic documentary about neglected and abandoned theaters throughout America. Through this project I’m hoping to generate a greater collective awareness of the stories behind these majestic structures and assist any organization that plans to restore them.

The posts will range from general history, to interviews with people who are involved with restoration efforts or were somehow associated with the theaters when they were open.

Here are some examples of theaters that will be featured in upcoming posts

Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum Theatre New Bedford, Ma
Proctor's Theatre
Proctor’s Palace Theatre
Paramount Theatre
Paramount Theatre
RKO Keith’s Theater
The Penthouse Theatre in Newark, NJ
Proctor’s Palace Roof Theatre
The Fabian Theatre in Patterson, NJ
Fabian Theatre
Beacon Theater Beacon, NY