Armory Theatre

206-208 State Street,
Binghamton, NY 13901

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From a postcard

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Research I did ‘indicated this theatre was operational until around 1920. It is listed in the 1906 Cahn-Hill Theatrical Guide (managers Weber & Rush), which makes it the second oldest theatre building in Binghamton to escape demolition. A diary of a local resident refers to it as “the New Armory Theatre” in 1906, which suggests a 1905 or 1906 opening date.

A court action refers to a lease having been acquired to the theatre in March 1906, so it was already in existence by that time.

Internet search shows the theatre to have been very active in the 1910’s, making the list of “prominent buildings” in the city (along with the Stone Opera House) in an encyclopedia published in 1914.

The Orange County Times Press on March 7, 1919 wrote that the “Armory Theatre” and “Armory Hotel” property had been sold to O.S. Hathaway, who was at the time already managing the Stone Opera House.

This fascinating and immense old building, presumably an old armory from the 19th century, still stands. It appears to have been used as a garage in succeeding years, and after a period of its use is now used for an LGBT outreach office. Its prior incarnations seem to be largely unknown in the present day. It might be a good candidate for investigation into what remains of the interior and for historic preservation.

Contributed by Adam Marsland

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

adamghost
adamghost on July 8, 2013 at 10:20 am

Further information gleaned after I posted this: this postcard, older than the one above (note the absence of marquee and sign), shows that the buildings at 202-204 State were part of the original armory/theatre building complex (perhaps the hotel was housed here):

http://www.cardcow.com/images/set413/card00894_fr.jpg

A friend who has been inside the building and knows the owner verifies that it was used in later years as a parking garage and, allegedly, a brothel (possibly, again, in the hotel part of the building). He states the garage ramping is still in place in the back of the building. No word on if any of the theatre remains, though one would assume it probably was in the part of the building later used by the parking garage.

adamghost
adamghost on August 23, 2013 at 3:34 am

A few more tidbits about the Armory: a columnist in the Binghamton Press in 1956 states at that point that the building is “a garage, a radio shop and a few other things now.” Another columnist in the ‘50s states that the Armory was (presumably in its later years) a place for “devotees of chorus girl shows.” It seems to have moved from legit theatre, movies and vaudeville to burlesque around the time of the sale of the theatre in 1919. Ethel Barrymore and Al Jolson both appeared at the Armory.

A June 1922 issue of Variety records the closing of the theatre as of May 31. “The Armory theatre, long a local theatrical landmark, will be transformed into a business structure as the result of its purchase by Albert I. Willey, local contractor…The Armory theatre dates back to the ‘70s when it was erected by the state for militia armory purposes.”

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