RKO Keith's Theater
44 W. Fourth Street,
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The Keith’s opened November 27, 1922, to much fanfare. No expense had been spared for this theater. Two heavily carpted marble staircases lead to the first promenade, which was decorated with rare, old French furniture, upholstered in the riches of Louis XIV and Louis XV damask. the first promenade led to the mens and ladies room, both of which were elaborately furnished. There was also a second mezzanine which was lavishly decorated. In the auditorium, theater patrons enjoyed wide aisles with seats finished in ruby Italian velvet. The walls were finished with the color of old ivory and lit with crystal and gold chandeliers. The stage of the Keiths was fitted with the latest in stage equipment. Performers enjoyed seven floors of dressing rooms, many with their own bathrooms and beds.
By 1929 vaudeville was being phased out and the Keiths became a full time movie house with occasional live shows. In 1930, RKO bought the theater and it became known as RKO Keith’s.
Keith’s continued along throughout the 30’s and 40’s, and in the 50’s the theater was equiped with television equipment and several University of Dayton sporting events were watched from the theater via closed circuit TV. In the 60’s Keith’s attendance was dropping like many other theaters in the US.
The theater was sold in 1966 to Richard H. Grant and Paul H. Deneau and in 1967 they decided to close the theater. Ironically, the final movie was titled “Once Before I Die”. The theater was demolished later that year and the Grant-Deneau towers were erected in its place. A sad but typical end to one of the best theaters in Dayton, Ohio.
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