Plaza Theatre

617 State Street,
Schenectady, NY 12305

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Showing 1 - 25 of 28 comments

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.

rivest266 on September 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm

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

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!!!

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

Oh thanks for the link:)

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.

Tinseltoes on May 28, 2013 at 9:32 am

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

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

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…

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

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 26, 2013 at 10:01 pm

The Plaza may have been owned by the Fabian family “Fabian Securities” but they were not the builders, Shapiro & Sons out of NYC did the actual hands on work, they started and completed all construction aspects of the Schenectady RKO. Recently researching through the Shapiro building record manuals we now know the Plaza “for sure” is listed as having 2500 seats. the State Theater in Schenectady “now demolished” had a bit over 1800 seats, the Schenectady Plaza never did and never had an 1800 seating capacity. Both the Plaza and Palace theaters were built at the same time, the Plaza was scheduled to be completed in 1 year, the Palace in Albany “John Eberson” architect for both theaters was to be completed in 16 months many delays in the Plazas construction went well over 1 year and the cost exceeded way over a million dollars.

Tinseltoes on May 26, 2013 at 11:11 am

The Plaza was owned and built by the Fabian family, simultaneously with their Palace Theatre in Albany, which also used John Eberson as architect. The operating leases were sold to RKO Theatres, which opened the Plaza on August 28, 1931, and the Palace two months later on October 23. At least a thousand seats larger than the Plaza, the Palace took longer to build in an ornate Austrian-Baroque décor with semi-atmospheric flourishes.

Tinseltoes on May 25, 2013 at 4:53 pm

The opening day ad for the RKO Plaza includes a feature movie only. Did the Plaza ever support the films with stage shows or vaudeville? I suspect that it remained a cinema only, opening as it did in the midst of the Depression.

Tinseltoes on May 25, 2013 at 10:41 am

The 1932 FDYB lists the RKO Plaza with 1,800 seats, and RKO Proctor’s with 2,738. But the 1933, 1934, 1935, and 1936 FDYBs all give 2,314 for the Plaza, and 2,738 for Proctor’s. When I can find some spare time, I’ll check the subsequent editions.

Tinseltoes on May 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm

When attendance started and continued to plummet with the arrival of home TV, many theatres stopped charging a premium for the loge sections to reduce operating expenses. As loges, they required at least one full-time attendant to make sure that no one sat there without paying the premium price. At peak times at night and on weekends, two attendants had to be stationed there, one at each side wall.

Tinseltoes on May 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

Thanks for the details. I suspect that there was one over-hanging balcony, with a premium-priced loge section at the front, and then a larger section behind it which was considered “balcony” and priced the same as seats on the ground floor. Here is a photo of one such at another Eberson atmospheric:cinematreasures

Tinseltoes on May 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

I’ve raised some questions about the auditorium in the Photos Section. If anyone can answer them, please do. Thanks!

Tinseltoes on May 16, 2013 at 4:59 pm

This must have been one of John Eberson’s last large theatres in the atmospheric style, perhaps even the very last.

Patsy on March 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm

And I wonder who the 2 men are in the photo as they look at the destroyed stage. I hope that at the time they wondered “if” they were doing the right thing! I can anwer that question now in one simple word……NO!

Patsy on March 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

The Plaza demo photo is hard to view though glad to see this once great theatre is included on CT. I have recently learned that the site is now home to an insurance company’s headquarters. Do hope an historical plaque is placed at the location so nobody will ever forget what was once there for theatre and movie goers. And I sincerely hope that there were some residents of Schenectady who opposed the demolition and fought to keep this theatre standing for future generations. Sadly, someone with pen in hand presented the RKO with its final blow and existence.

fourhills10 on June 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

As I spent my childhood years in Schenectady, I saw movies at the Plaza Theater many, many times. When I was 12 years old, the manager gave me a tour of the projection booth. Very exciting, since I wanted to be a projectionist when I grew up. A goal which was realized in 1969 after a 8 year hitch in the Navy. Too my eyes,the Plaza was a huge palace from the long hallway that lead from the enterance to the concession stand and the auditorium. It was heart breaking to see an empty lot where this beautiful theater once stood.

tommoulton on June 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Not only were the stars shining the clouds also moved over the entire ceiling. It was so fascinating to watched that

rivest266 on February 4, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Grand opening article and ads is at View link

manycats on September 5, 2007 at 11:46 pm

I believe this is the theater my dad, who was born in 1924, often spoke about. He said when you looked up at the ceiling, it looked like stars were shining and that it was air conditioned (which was apparently a novelty).