RKO State Theatre
32 East Fourth Street,
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The RKO State has an interesting begining, It was originaly built as a YMCA in 1886. David Sinclair started Sinclair College here. By 1908, the college and YMCA had outgrown the building and it became the Auditorium Theater. There were actually two screens in the theater, one on the main floor and another on the second floor called the Annex. This is probaly the first example of what we now know as a twin theater. The main lower auditorium seated 1,040 on a stadium plan, with a raised section at the rear (with no overhanging balcony). The upper auditorium (known as the Annex) became the Hippodrome Theatre in 1913 but closed in 1914 and after remaining empty for a while was converted into the Auditorium Hotel in 1917.
The theater was said to be haunted by a young woman that was killed in the sewing room. Strange noises and lights turning on and off by themselves were reported. The theater also had talkies, before they were even invented! Actors behind the screen would act out the action on the screen.
The Auditorium was renamed the State Theater in 1923 when it was managed by B.F. Keiths. It primarly ran B movies and handled the overflow of movies from the Keith’s Theater. The State had a personality of its own. The theater resembled an old castle and was perfect for watching horror movies.
By 1923 the Theater was renamed RKO State. In the 50’s attendance was dropping off and on October 28, 1964 RKO dropped it lease on the building. The theater opened the next day under different management and they too closed on January 18, 1965.
A year later, the Dayton Community Theatre moved in and did well. The City of Dayton had other plans. In 1970 the building was demolished and became part of the Dayton Convention Center and Hotel complex.
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