Plaza Theatre

617 State Street,
Schenectady, NY 12305

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RKO/Fabian Plaza Theatre

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The RKO Plaza Theatre was opened on August 28, 1931, with Maurice Chevalier in “The Smiling Lieutenant. Designed in an Atmospheric style by theatre architect John Eberson, the theatre took three years to build. There was an enormous lobby, complete with ornate chandeliers. Seating in the auditorium was provided for 2,500 in orchestra and two balcony levels. As well as movies, the RKO Plaza Theatre hosted stage shows and performances by the likes of the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy, George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra and many more.

It was demolished in 1964.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

Tinseltoes on May 27, 2013 at 10:16 am

In theatrical trade jargon, the “builders” are the people who come up with the idea for the project and provide the ground site and the financing, not the company hired to do the actual construction work…Does anyone have exact or even approximate dates for the stage shows and other “live” presentations at the Plaza? That would make it easier to find details in the newspapers of the time.

Derrick Paul
Derrick Paul on May 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I mentioned that I know a musician 85 years old who worked at the Plaza and Proctors, he told me most of the big shows were held at the Plaza because of its stage size and acoustics

Derrick Paul
Derrick Paul on May 28, 2013 at 2:09 am

Details are very hard to find for the Plaza..demolished 40 yeas ago I guess things get would be nice to have lobby photos etc..I even contacted the Schenectady historical society, they don’t have anything? its almost like it never existed?….but I did hear tonight that it had a little pond in the lobby with fish…

Tinseltoes on May 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

On the night of April 2nd, 1963, the Plaza held a “community concert” featuring the Orchestra San Pietro of Naples, Italy. This was two days before the Plaza closed forever. A review in the Gazette said the acoustics were excellent, even from the last row of the balcony. Here’s a link to the review, which can be found on page 24 in the upper left corner: Google

Tinseltoes on May 28, 2013 at 9:32 am

P.S. That’s the Gazette issue dated April 3rd, 1963.

Derrick Paul
Derrick Paul on May 28, 2013 at 10:58 am

Its sad when these grand movie palaces close..The Plaza really didn’t have much of a chance, only 33 years not long for the shining castle on the hill “that’s what we called it when we were kids”…no save the theater foundations back then {Or it didn’t seem so… The Plaza had a lot of Classical artist performing there way back when, Sergio Rachmaninoff, New York Philharmonic etc ,this city was never an artistic town …that may have been its demise “Oh well” One more word John Ebersons grand daughter came to our city about 12 years ago looking for photos etc..we don’t have any, really we dont they told her..Maybe I’ll try to contact Philip Rapps living relatives, who knows we may strike gold..Take care.

Derrick Paul
Derrick Paul on May 28, 2013 at 10:59 am

Oh thanks for the link:)

Derrick Paul
Derrick Paul on June 2, 2013 at 4:00 am

It seems as though Phillip Rapp was correct. After the demolition of the Plaza Theater in 1964 many city residents were angry at city officials for tearing it down, their excuse was “the Plaza didn’t have an adequate stage” Philip Rapp “Manager of both Proctors and the Plaza ” in a 1980s addition of Old Dorp said that this was untrue, he claimed that actually the Plaza had a larger and deeper stage than Proctors, so I decided to put Mr Rapp to the test:)I did this by looking through old construction photos, for instance if there was a ladder lying down on the stage all I did is blown up the photo and count the ladder runs, each ladder run is 1 ft “I had to make sure my perspective was right”. Using Photoshop I then turned the ladder sideways, and with my mouse I moved the 12 ft ladder along the stage, this gave me a very accurate measurement..The Plaza stage was 65 ft wide being conservative and the depth was 28 ft. I again checked and rechecked every construction photo I have and it was right on every time. So I guess Mr Rapp was right:) because Proctors just enlarged their stage depth to 29 ft “ meaning in the old days it might have been 25 or 26 ft etc…One thing I should mention:) the Plaza didn’t have much of a stage loft, but according to the demolition crew, it wouldn’t have taken much to install one…Thanks!!!

rivest266 on September 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Another grand opening ad uploaded in the photo section for this theatre.

robboehm on March 6, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Interesting that the opening day was August 28, 1931 when only a couple of weeks before on August 8th the anticipated opening was six weeks away.

The name Plaza was chosen, firstly, because of it bordering on Crescent Park and, secondly, because it was in keeping with the Spanish architectural structure of the building.

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