RKO Orpheum Theater
941-945 E. McMillan Avenue,
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Previously operated by: RKO
Previous Names: Orpheum Theater
The 1,200-seat Orpheum Theater was owned and built in 1909 in the Peebles Corner section of Cincinnati by Colonel Ike Martin of Chester Amusement Park renown. It opened December 19, 1909. The Orpheum Theater was erected to deliver high class vaudeville to the city without being affiliated with a major vaudeville chain until William Morris joined forces with it a few years later.
This was the only “double theater” built in Cincinnati during the early days of filmdom. Though the Orpheum Theater started as a single screen theater in 1918, it added a 1,000-seat second screen on the sixth floor of its parent structure. In the early silent days both organs in the theaters were connected so that one organist could play on the first floor and it would be repeated musically on the slave instrument five floors above.
The second auditorium on the sixth floor was serviced by a passenger elevator and the side walls and roof of this cinema were built of large glass panels which could be opened to capture any passing breezes in the hot sticky summer months. The theater was known as the “sky theater”, something like an interior airdrome theater.
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