Rialto Theater

310 S. 9th Street,
Tacoma, WA 98402

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Rialto Theater

The Rialto Theater opened September 7, 1918. The original architect was Roland Borhek. When the Rialto Theater opened it had a Wurlizer 3/15 Style 35 Special installed. The organ was sold and removed in 1945.

Around 1990 a nonprofit organization with funding from the City of Tacoma and its City Council, bought the theater and remodeled it. The organization is called the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. The Rialto Theater is now used for live performances.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber & Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

markinthedark on May 5, 2005 at 8:32 pm

Saw a double feature of “Raiders of the Los Ark” and “Airplane!” here for $1 three weekends in a row when I was a kid. A company called Galaxy Theatres ran it and several other old single screeners around Tacoma until they went under in 1984. Then a company called Star Cinemas ran it until the late 1980’s.

markinthedark on May 5, 2005 at 8:33 pm

Does anyone have Photos of the Rialto interior before, during or after the restoration?

kateymac01 on May 5, 2005 at 8:55 pm

If you go to http://search.tpl.lib.wa.us/images/ and type Rialto into the search line, you can find lots of historic photos of the theater, including some beautiful interior shots. There are none there from the renovation, though. Just from the 1920’s to 1950’s.

teecee on July 19, 2005 at 10:31 am

Recent night time photo:
View link

markinthedark on August 4, 2007 at 8:55 pm

I wish there were some good shots of the interior out there.

HowardBHaas on August 31, 2007 at 8:18 pm

Beautiful photo by Rob Bender of exterior, 8-29-07 here:
View link

markinthedark on May 30, 2009 at 6:38 pm

When it was last a cinema prior to the restoration it had a slightly curved scope screen in front of the proscenium. It extended i believe to just about where the purple lights are on either side of the stage in the recent interior photo 2 posts up. The Rialto once played “Empire Strikes Back” in 70mm either as 2nd run or a rerelease around 1981 or so. Not sure of any other past 70mm engagements, although the larger Temple Theatre up the hill had many.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 7, 2010 at 10:49 am

According to a brief biography of Tacoma architect Roland Borhek, the Rialto was the second theater he designed in the city. In 1914, he had designed the Colonial Theatre, though that house went through a couple of significant remodeling projects before finally being demolished.

I noticed that the PSTOS page Chuck linked above to misspells Borhek’s first name (it should be Roland, with only one “l”) which is probably where the misspelling currently in the theater description on this page came from.

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