Rialto Theatre

18 N. Main Street,
Albion, NY 14411

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Rialto Theatre

In December 1921 W.H. Robson acquired the Family Theatre and the Temple Theatre in Albion. In March 1924, Robson purchased the American Legion Building on Main Street, and had it demolished. Work began in January 1925 to construct the Rialto Theatre on the site. The building would have two stores to occupy the front of the building and the American Legion were to have two of the rooms on the second floor.

The Rialto Theatre was opened on December 2, 1925 with acts of vaudeville, Pathe News, “Aesop’s Fables” (cartoon) and the feature “Seven Keys to Baldplate”. Dragon’s Orchestra furnished part of the music, with Dragon himself playing the organ.

On April 28, 1933, Charles V. Martina, owner of the Clyde Playhouse in Clyde, NY took out a lease on the Rialto Theatre. Martina purchased the Rialto Theatre on August 19, 1933.

The Rialto Theatre then became part of the Martina Circuit, and they still operated the theatre in 1957.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 12, 2012 at 11:22 pm

C. V. Martina of the Martina circuit still had his offices in Albion at least as late as 1960, when he wrote a letter to Motion Picture Herald. He was also mentioned in connection with Albion in an item in the Medina, New York Herald of November 28, 1935, which said that he had taken over the Rialto Theatre at Albion. The Rialto was still in operation at least as late as 1953.

I’ve found theaters in Albion called the Family and the Temple mentioned in various items issues of The Moving Picture world from 1916. Albion also had a stage house called the Pratt Theatre, listed in the Cahn guide of 1910. The theater listed as the Grand Opera House in the 1920 guide was probably the same house.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm

This linkopens an image of page 3 of the April 24, 1952, edition of The Holley Standard, a local newspaper from a neigboring town. Toward the bottom right side of the page is a notice that the Hollywood Theatre in Holley had exhibited its last motion picture and that patrons should visit the Rialto in Albion for their future moviegoing pleasure. Attached to the bottom of the notice is an ad for the schedule of movies at the Rialto for the coming week.

The notice is attributed to “Manager, Joseph Melfi, Jr.” I’m not sure if he managed only the Hollywood or if he also had a hand in the Rialto. Both theaters may have been part of the same circuit at that point in time. The Hollywood Theatre is presently not listed on CT.

Another note about the street view above… The address of 18 S Main Street would place the theater between the US Post Office (built in the 1930’s) and the Christ Church Outreach Center located at 20 S Main. You can view both of these buildings by swinging the street view around to the left a bit. I hesitate to set the view to that point because I can’t be sure the same address scheme exists today as was in place when the theatre was still standing. I have further reservations because the space between the two existing structures (both of which pre-date the Rialto’s demolition) doesn’t seem big enough to have held a theatre of this size plus storefronts.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Here is a mid-20th Century postcard view looking south on Main Street, from a point well beyond the tall church steeple seen on the right of the street view above. In the image, the steeple is on the left and what I believe to be the marquee of the Rialto, is the white, boxy item more or less across the street from the church steeple. It appears to be jutting out from behind the trees (one can zoom in on the image without losing too much clarity). Hard to place where exactly this would be in the current street view. However, if you analyze the image, there doesn’t appear to be a cross street to the north of the theater. A bit further beyond the marquee, you can make out a vehicle coming from the right and appearing to make a left onto Main Street. If that vehicle is turning at the intersection of State Street, that would place the theater on North Main Street, rather than South Main Street (State Street being the line that bisects South Main from North Main).

Is it possible that the address of the Rialto was actually 18 N Main Street, rather than 18 S Main? If so, that would place the site of the old theater directly across from the church (and conveniently would be where the current-day 18 N Main Street is situated).

adamghost on August 19, 2013 at 1:59 am

Here’s a view from the opposite end of the street, much later. Seems to confirm your placement of the theatre.


Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 19, 2013 at 3:35 am

Here’s adamghost’s link. I agree that the theater had to have been at 18 N. Main. It’s impossible to tell from appearance alone if the building now on the site is entirely new construction or an extreme remodeling of the Rialto’s building, but I’m inclined to think it’s new and the theater has been demolished.

Michael_Landauer on August 5, 2016 at 6:36 am


I grew up in Albion and went to the Rialto often. On the actual Google Map, the location of the original theater is incorrect. It should be north of State Street on the left. The theater was torn down in the ‘80s and replaced with the Navarra Family Restaurant. The restaurant, too, is now gone but it was located in the white structure in the Google Map photo.

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