The RKO Boston Theatre originally opened as the Keith-Albee Boston Theatre on October 5, 1925. It was designed by renowned theater architect Thomas W. Lamb and built in the former Siegel Co. department store. The 3,231 seat auditorium was designed in the adamesque style. Opening day comprised six vaudeville acts, and two silent films, “California Straight Ahead” starring Reginald Denny and “The Caretaker’s Daughter” featuring Charlie Chase.
The theater was operated by the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation until 1929, when it merged with the Radio Corporation of America to form RKO Pictures. The Keith-Albee Boston was then renamed RKO Boston Theatre. Cinerama, a wide-screen format requiring three projectors, was installed in 1953. It lasted until 1969, when the theater was twinned by separating the balcony from the orchestra level.
In the 1970s, the RKO was renamed the Essex theater, and started showing Kung Fu films. It changed names and formats again in the early-1980s, this time to the Star Theater, and began showing x-rated films. It closed in 1986. The lobby was gutted and turned into a subway entrance. The auditorium was used as a warehouse for a time, but it is currently empty and hidden from public view.
Matt Lambros MA Boston Dec 22, 2022 Architecture History Then & Now
Location: Boston, MA
Matt Lambros Dec 22, 2022
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