RKO Royal Theatre

423 Westchester Avenue,
Bronx, NY 10455

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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 8 comments)

bamtino
bamtino on July 3, 2004 at 12:50 am

A vintage image can be found here:
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 6, 2005 at 12:30 pm

The RKO Royal Theatre had two other architects helping out Thomas Lamb (on one of his first projects), they were Buchanan & Fox.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on February 23, 2006 at 9:05 am

To promote his new film “The Ladies Man,” Jerry Lewis appeared on stage at this theater on July 12, 1961.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 20, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Historian Michael Miller’s comprehensive list, “Theatres of the Bronx,” does not include any theatre called Westchester. But Westchester Avenue is a major street in the Bronx, and some early cinema situated on it might have carried that name. While doing his research, Miller (now deceased) found evidence for possible cinemas at the following places on Westchester Avenue: #915 in 1924; #949 in 1912, 1914; N side between Jackson & Forest, 1914); S side between Simpson & Fox, 1912, 1914; N side, between Southern & Fox, 1912, 1914); #1509, in 1928; N side between St. Lawrence & Beach, 1928. Miller suspected that the majority were conversions of stores or other commercial buildings.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe 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.

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.

BobFurmanek
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.

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