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I am absolutely convinced that there is nothing ofvalue left in the theatre
Center Proscenium with damage evidentDeveloper instructions:demolish, subdivide and replace with sheetrock
After 26 years of neglect there has been a lot of damage to this theatre.But then there are two sides to every coin:
On this day 80 years ago
Nice find Tinseltoes, always wondered what the source
of that photo was.
BTW not all the seats were replaced apparently some of the cast iron originals were left in the balcony. Ironically of the 2,971 seats in the RKO
only one remains – the original style – having been
tossed from the balcony and caught in plaster backing
structure, where it has hung for 26 years:
What is proposed for the RKO Keith’s is even more of a tragedy for Flushing than what has been done so far.
Wall fixture in the 784 square foot Men’s Smoking Room.
This and most of the theatre would be demolished to make way for a proposed apartment building that would have 357 units with an average area of 787 square feet.
The “bulldozed” West stairway from the promenade
April 17, 2012
Oops! There goes another chunk of landmark.
The scrupulously maintained landmark
It’s not that Thomas Huang didn’t try to destroy the theatre, it’s just that he was just so cheap he hired incompetent day laborers to do the job using hand held hammers. It is thanks to this method of “demolition” that so much of the theatre survives to this day.
Time for another photo of the gutted and worthless
The myth that there is nothing of value left in the theatre ignores the facts. The urbanremainschicago.com site is currently marketing portions of Chicago’s 1931 Nortown Theatre, demolished in June 2007. Examples include frieze panels of 31" x 21" offered for $750, small mask sculptures offered for $1,850 and other decorative geometry plaster sections are sold for $460. While the 82,439 sq ft Flushing RKO Keith’s Theatre has deliberate damage to interior walls, it also has on the order of 10,000 sq. ft. of hand sculpted plaster and relief panels, mostly extant, in excellent to repairable condition in the auditorium. A complete valuation has never been done, if parted out it could be worth millions. Consider that they were designed by America’s foremost show palace architect and done by skilled craftsman brought over from Scotland. The presence of these artifacts has been substantiated with numerous recent photographs. The reinforced concrete balcony, steel frame structure, foundation and immaculate exterior brick work all remain intact. It is the one of last surviving atmospheric theatres in the country and is part of the cultural heritage of NYC and its development. The Flushing community, with its well documented congestion in the downtown area and glut of zoning variance properties, many unoccupied for years, is not well served with the addition 357 units on a street that has NYC’s second highest vehicular traffic, after Times Square, configured as a tower directly under the LaGuardia airport landing approach.
I am hesitant to show overall photos because the reaction is “look at the destruction” as opposed to “look 90% of the theatre is still there and in salvageable condition” You can see the space above the ceiling where undocumented workers hired by the first developer could climb into and hammer down sections. The “show me the money” argument against restoring the theatre applies just as easily to developers who want to build a mixed use tower. It appears the RKO is back on the market and yet another developer makes an exit leaving behind the mess they created.
http://www.qchron.com/editions/north/northern-queens-flushing-rko-keith-s-for-sale-again/article_21899650-696d-11e1-ae59-001871e3ce6c.html?fb_ref=.T1lSS2Nfzdg.like&fb_source=profile_onelineThe RKO: Heart of Darkness
From the description above the date narrows down to Nov. 1927-March 1928; probably Nov 1927 since there are still leaves on the ground.
The source for Warren’s 5/14/2008 postcard
Cort Theatre circa 1927-1930Featuring vaudeville star Olga Petrova’s play “What Do We Know”
A detail from the backstage VIP dressing room
It’s gutted I tell you
The RKO in the year of the Dragon
Can it survive or will the NYC Board of Standards
& Appeals grant yet another waiver to allow the
developer more time on 1/31/12?
Here is another interesting one: In the basement alone
there were over 50 rooms with everything needed to support large scale theatrical productions:
musicians room, band leaders room, stage manager’s room, electricians,carpenters room, porters,vaults, library, laundry, engineers room, doorman’s room, store rooms and an animal room (number 62 to be exact).
This room was sealed off and I shot this through a hole in the wall just large enough to fit my camera through, in the background there is a bath; the show animals were led up an adjacent 4/1 ramp under to the stage.