RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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RKO Keith's Theatre

Once one of the most celebrated movie palaces of New York City, the RKO Keith’s Theatre in the Flushing section of Queens, is only a ghost of its former self.

Opened as the Keith-Albee Theatre on December 25, 1928 with Clara Bow in “Three Week Ends” on the screen and Keith-Albee vaudeville on stage. By the 1970’s, the theatre had been tripled, and as legend has it, in 1986, after almost sixty years of showing movies, the theatre was closed and sold. Soon after, its owner attempted to demolish it before a hearing could be held to decide its fate.

Having already damaged its famous facade and with work commencing to gut the theatre, the demolition was halted by the city. The owner soon forfeited the property, and the damaged and stripped RKO Keith’s Theatre has sat and waited for its final demolition for almost 30 years.

Several plans have come and gone to convert the building into apartments, but it sits to this day.

Contributed by Ross Melnick, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 1,305 comments)

robboehm on May 24, 2019 at 7:46 am

Bobby, according to the MarQuee online site they will be “relaunching” in June so, you know how things never occur when scheduled, you may have a long wait.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on May 24, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Theatre Historical Society of America was supposed to be having its annual conclave in New York City next month. Is that still happening?

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on May 24, 2019 at 2:44 pm

Yes, it’s still happening. It’s June 23-29, but the Keith’s isn’t on the list.

It’s called TheatreCon now.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on May 25, 2019 at 7:02 am

Time marches on for Keith’s Flushing in this recent news report, which claims that demolition of two-story adjacent buildings will be completed by next February. Click here

robboehm on May 25, 2019 at 8:46 am

Any bets that portions of the theater may be “accidentally” destroyed by debris from the adjacent buildings being demolished?

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on May 25, 2019 at 9:37 am

The whole building is going to be demolished. The land marked portions were removed. The plan is to restore them off site and reinstall them when construction is almost complete.

Jeffrey1955 on May 25, 2019 at 8:27 pm

Ah, what’s the use. It’s been so long now, nobody but a few of us old geezers even remember there was a theater there. I don’t even know why they’re bothering to return the “restored” lobby elements to the site, since they’ve apparently been moved elsewhere for restoration. Put them in the Queens Museum. At least they’ll be appreciated by more people there.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 2, 2020 at 6:50 am

“ANOTHER CHANCE AT LIFE FOR RKO KEITH’S…New Proposal to preserve landmarks, add hotel, restaurant and more” are the headlines for a news report in the latest weekly issue of Queens Chronicle. Full article here

Jeffrey1955 on February 2, 2020 at 12:42 pm

How amazingly appropriate for that to appear on Groundhog Day! How many times can one say “I’ll believe it when I see it” and “Maybe this plan will come to fruition”?

Of course, I don’t actually see any difference between this plan and previous plans. They’re still going to demolish the theater and keep only the lobby. The only real change is in the composition of the building, adding a hotel and restaurant to the condos. Maybe they could add a little enclosed habitat for groundhogs?

robboehm on February 2, 2020 at 4:40 pm

I wonder if I’ll ever live to see the day when the future of the RKO Keiths, the Playhouse in Great Neck and the Times Square in Manhattan will all be resolved (and, of course, the Long Island Rail Road going into Grand Central Station and the completion of the Second Avenue Subway).

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