RKO Keith's Theater

27 Bridge Street,
Lowell, MA 01852

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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 10, 2011 at 10:58 am

B.F. Keith’s Theatre was among the Lowell theaters in a long list of theaters and halls in Massachusetts which received licenses in the 12 months ending Oct. 31, 1914. Other Lowell theaters on the list were the Academy of Music, Merrimack Square Theatre, Lowell Opera House, and the Playhouse. Plus some function/fraternal halls.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I-Silva- yes, it appears to be the Keith’s in Lowell. The marquee is not the same as in the 1941 MGM Report photo, but the windows above are the clue. The large center window is the same, with small windows on either side. Look at the photos which JV Roy posted above on April 14, 2010.

InesitadaSilva on December 29, 2010 at 8:49 am

Thank you! Then the ‘chaperone’ site visitors can see here: http://www.inesitadasilva.com/images/1930sUSA.jpg also stood in front of the Lowell Theatre. Thank you for helping to confirm another theatre my grandmother visited during her Vaudeville career!

jimroy on December 29, 2010 at 8:15 am

My guess is yes, it is Lowell. The building looks to match the one in the postcard of Lowell from 1913 though the marquee had obviously changed by the ‘40s. Great shot, thanks.

InesitadaSilva on December 29, 2010 at 8:04 am

After reviewing the useful notes above, I would like to ask whether cinema treasures' patrons might be able to verify the photograph you can see here of a B.F. Keith’s Theatre at:
View link
Is this probably the Keith’s in Lowell, MA? The photo was made I believe between 1928 and 1931. I’ve been through all 12 Keith’s Theatres listed on CT, so if it is not the one in Lowell, would site visitors have any idea which Keith’s it might be? A photo of the Lowell Theatre between 1913 and 1941 might resolve the riddle! Many thanks in advance.

jimroy on April 14, 2010 at 7:29 am

I’ve added a couple of shots from 1941 and 1949 courtesy Ron Salters

TLSLOEWS on April 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Nice photos J.V.Roy.

jimroy on April 5, 2010 at 11:43 am

B. F. Keith also funded two Catholic High Schools in Lowell: Keith Academy for boys and Keith Hall for girls.

Here are a few then and now shots of the theater

kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Here is a September 1950 ad from the Lowell Sun:

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 1, 2009 at 10:26 am

To ticketseller- the Keith circuit of vaudeville theaters was founded by Benjamin Franklin Keith (“B.F.”) and most of these theaters were later taken over by RKO. The “K” in RKO stands for “Keith”. So you would say “B.F. Keith’s” prior to around 1930 or so, then “RKO Keith’s” after that. Undoubtedly, when Jack Kerouac was growing up in Lowell, many local people probably called it by its old name, B.F. Keith’s Theatre.

PeterKoch on February 12, 2009 at 7:10 am

Thanks, Prov. and ticketseller, for all these Kerouac details !

meredithlee on February 11, 2009 at 10:15 pm

OOPS – just noticed at the top of the page that this RKO was also known as BF’s.

meredithlee on February 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm

I just read on the Lowell Rialto page that someone else referred to this as B.F. Keith’s – yet also on this site the only MA B.F. listed was in Boston, and here in Lowell it’s called R.K.O. My ignorance – are they the same thing, is being called RKO or BF interchangeable?

meredithlee on February 11, 2009 at 4:17 pm

I’m reading Kerouac’s Dr. Sax now and around page 110 he writes about going to Keith’s Theater, but he describes it as B.F., not R.K.O. so maybe he really didn’t go there too much, or his memory was confused. He writes about W.C. Fields playing there as part of the 6-Act Vod Bill. Kerouac’s descriptions of the theater, the streets, the Chinese Restaurant, all evoke Edward Hopper’s paintings of similar subjects of the same era. They are fantastic together.

Rtprovencher on March 15, 2008 at 11:20 am

Jack Kerouac was not a regular at Keith’s. Because of his economic situation, Kerouac would see films with his buddies at second-run houses, such as The Capital on Middlesex Street, or The Royal on Merrimack Street. But, that’s OK…he probably had more fun! The shows, especially on Saturdays, were cheap and aimed at kids. He was known to have emmulated some of the super heroes and cowboy stars.

PKoch on September 7, 2007 at 1:11 pm

Now that we’re just past the 50-year anniversary of the publication of his masterpiece, “On The Road”, I wonder how many movies Jack Kerouac saw here as a boy ?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 3, 2006 at 7:30 am

The MGM Theatre Photogaph and Report form for the RKO Keith’s on Bridge St. in Lowell has an exterior photo dated 1941. There is a fairly fancy 3-story facade with a large marquee having white letters on a black background. Features playing are “The Devil and Miss Jones” and “They Met in Argentina”. It appears that one went in from the street and then turned left to enter the auditorium. The large stagehouse can be seen at the left-rear of the photo. The Report states that the theater is not a MGM customer; that it is over 15 years old; that it’s in DeLuxe condition; and has 788 orchestra seats; 429 seats in the first balcony and 450 seats in the 2nd balcony, total: 1667 seats.