FOCUS ON 2013 CONCLAVE: Palace Theatre, Albany

Our second venue visit on 2013′s Conclave Theatre Tour will be to:


19 Clinton Street, Albany, NY
OPENED: October 23, 1931
ARCHITECT: John Eberson
STYLE: Mixed Baroque/Semi-Atmospheric
CAPACITY: 3,659 (original) 2,844 (current)
WEBSITE: palacealbany.com

The Palace Theatre first opened its doors in October of 1931 as the largest theatre in a city already noted for a number of opulent movie houses.

Designed by John Eberson, the RKO-owned facility spared no expense in its design and boasted an ornate Austrian Baroque theme with “atmospheric” elements in the auditorium. Though many changes have taken place since its opening, the Palace has retained most of its original design features, including an impressive brass chandelier in the main lobby, original murals painted by Andrew Karoly and Jules Zartol, and plaster beams in the fore-lobby painted to resemble carved wood.

Originally presenting vaudeville acts between feature films, the Palace Theatre was uniquely able to weather the advent of the “talkies.” Due to its size and location, the Palace became Albany’s premiere first-run movie house and remained reasonably successful. After World War II, however, the advent of television, the rise of suburbia, and the virtual abandonment of downtown areas in general all contributed to the Palace’s declining fortunes and, despite a $250,000 renovation in 1960, the theatre continued to lose money.

The doors finally closed in September 1969. Soon after, the City of Albany purchased the theater for $90,000 to use as a civic auditorium. In 1979, the Palace Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Slow and steady restoration work and physical enhancements over the years have brought the Palace back to prominence, the sole survivor of the Golden Age of Albany’s movie theater era.

Today, the Palace Theatre continues to host a widely diverse offering of popular acts and cultural events. Artists such as the Rolling Stones, Jerry Seinfeld, Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, and Melissa Etheridge have shared the stage with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, world-class ballet, Broadway touring shows, family and children’s theater, city-sponsored events, and a classic Hollywood film series.

Stunning example of an Eberson palace design – fully restored and successfully operational.

Register for the 2013 Conclave Theatre Tour online.

(Portions of this text are courtesy of the Palace Albany’s website.)

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