Rialto Theatre

318 East Congress Street,
Tucson, AZ 85701

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Rialto Theatre - Tucson, AZ

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Closed due to a major gas explosion in 1984. Under renovation since 1985, and currently an active performing arts center. Friends of the Rialto Theatre are working to bring this theatre back to it’s former glory.

An extensive history of the theatre is available at the official website.

Contributed by Gregg

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

kencmcintyre on May 23, 2006 at 5:54 pm

Here is a 1995 article about the history of the Rialto. Unfortunately, the accompanying photos no longer appear, at least on my computer:

thegrinch on November 28, 2006 at 9:06 pm

The link for the Rialto listed above is a nice Net site but its facts reference the Rialto having an organ are off by miles. The Rialto as best I have been able to determine never had an organ. At best it might have had a Photoplayer unit for a while. The Kilgen organ referred to on their website arrived at the Yuma theatre in the mid 1980s. It came from a theatre in southern California and was installed in a mortuary in Yuma in the 40s or 50s. It was moved from the mortuary to the Yuma theatre in the l980s when the local chapter of ATOS wanted to install it. They ultimately failed and the organ never got installed. It was parted out.
If you look closely at the enlarged photo of the Rialto interior from the balcony apparently taken when the theatre was new, there is no organ console in the pit area and the “organ grilles” on the sidewalls are painted on. Don Story

kencmcintyre on May 10, 2007 at 3:13 pm

There are 12 photos on this page from the CA State Library:

monika on June 3, 2007 at 6:07 pm

Here’s a photo I took of the Rialto in 2001: View link

monika on February 7, 2009 at 9:18 am

I think that Lost Memory’s photo link is more recent than the previous ones. I was there in 2001 and the theatre had the plain, flat marquee. The photos in LM’s links from 2/6/09 and 11/14/07 are more recent than that, the theatre has had some restoration work done in the last couple years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2009 at 2:10 am

That information from the National Register of Historic Places interesting. I was not aware that Alexander Curlett had ever designed a theater. It must have been a solo work, too, as his father William Curlett, his former partner, had died in 1914.

The Rialto must have been his last, or nearly the last, project he designed before he formed his partnership with Claud Beelman, as everything else I’ve seen of his from 1920 to 1928 is attributed to Curlett & Beelman. The impression I’ve gotten from various sources has been that Aleck Curlett was the less talented member of that firm, but the Rialto is a pretty impressive building. Maybe he had more to do with the designs of the great Curlett & Beelman projects of the 1920s than I’ve been led to believe.

Now I’m wondering if some of the still-unattributed theaters around the southwest from the late 1910s might have been of his design.

Patsy on January 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Curtis McCrary of the Rialto Theatre held a a special vigil in honor of Gabrielle Giffords, John Roll and the other victims of the recent shooting in Tucson AZ tonight at 7:30. The marquee gave a message of hope to their Gabby.

spectrum on September 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm

From their website gallery, much of the original decoration in the lobby and auditorium is gone, replaced by modern d├ęcor.

spectrum on September 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm

…also the seating has been removed, and the smooth sloping floor has removable folding chairs.

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