RKO Royal Theatre

423 Westchester Avenue,
Bronx, NY 10455

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RKO Royal Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx, the Royal Theatre first opened on September 7, 1913, and was one of the first large commissions for architect Thomas W. Lamb. Owner Percy Williams launched it with vaudeville only, but when he sold the theatre to Keith’s in 1918, movies were added. By that time, the Royal was so successful that Keith’s wanted Lamb to expand the seating capacity to 3,000 by combining the two separate balconies into one, but safety engineers nixed the project.

Inevitably, the theatre became the RKO Royal, first-run for the neighborhood but day-and-date with the circuit’s other Bronx theatres. After closure in 1962, it was demolished, but has yet to be replaced by anything but a parking lot.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 20, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for the information. The theater in the photo could have been located at one of the locations that you gave but I have no way of knowing for sure. The Westchester Theater mentioned on the silent era theater list should be listed in the 1926 Film Daily Yearbook unless the listing is a mistake.

This is the listing where I saw the Westchester Theater. The theater on that list might not be in the Bronx, but I don’t see any Westchester Theater listed on Cinema Treasures for New York City.

KenRoe on July 20, 2007 at 3:09 pm

Regarding the Westchester Theatre, Bronx, I have three possibilities for you…..

American Motion Picture Directory 1914-1915
Westchester Theatre, 2319 Winchester Avenue, Bronx, (now maps as 2319 Washington Avenue, Bronx, 10458)
Westchester Hippodrome, 1423 Williamsbridge Road, Bronx, 10461

Film Daily Yearbook, 1926 edition
Westchester Theatre, 2319 Webster Avenue, Bronx, 10458 (600 seats)

Seems a coincidence with two theatres having a 2319 number on different streets! As Webster Avenue is the one that actually maps correctly I would say this could be the correct address of the Westchester Theatre which is in the photo posted by Lost Memory above.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 20, 2007 at 5:44 pm

It does seem to be a strange coincidence that two theaters on different avenue’s would have the same building number. You could add the Westchester Theater at 2319 Webster Avenue from the 1926 Film Daily Yearbook and mention the other Westchester Theater that was located on Winchester Avenue in the description. I don’t know if Winchester Avenue was renamed or if it was just an error in the American Motion Picture Directory. They probably are the same theater. I checked the Department of Buildings records and neither address is valid. Most likely the theater was demolished.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 21, 2007 at 7:48 am

The building in the photo displayed above on June 20th looks like it might have eventually been moved to Woodlawn Cemetery to be used for a mausoleum.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 2, 2008 at 6:43 pm

Where do you see a photo posted on June 20th? Did you mean July 20th?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 3, 2008 at 8:07 am

Here is a photo of the RKO Royal.

BobFurmanek on February 4, 2009 at 11:45 am

On Friday January 26, 1962, the Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly-Joe DeRita) embarked on a three day promotional tour for their latest feature film, THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES. They were accompanied by “The Herculean Giant” (almost 8 foot tall Dave Ballard) and popular DJ Clay Cole, who was one of the stars of the co-feature, TWIST AROUND THE CLOCK.

On Friday January 26, they appeared at the RKO Royal at 9:35 PM.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 19, 2009 at 7:36 pm

This site has a larger version of the photo that I linked to on July 20, 2007 at 10:47am. Click on the photo to expand it.

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