The nonprofit Palace Performing Arts Center Inc. was established in 1984 to operate the Palace Theatre. While our organization has grown and expanded its scope, we still celebrate the rich history of the venue which our corporation was founded to maintain and operate. The following is a brief history of this beautiful venue...
The Palace Theatre is a grand cultural and entertainment facility in the heart of downtown Albany, NY. Construction began in June of 1930 during the middle of the Great Depression. When its doors opened in October 1931, the "RKO Movie Palace" was the third largest movie theatre in the world at the time, and the largest theatre in Albany. In a city already noted for a number of opulent movie houses, the Palace Theatre stands today as the sole survivor of this period and continues to make history with a widely diverse offering of popular acts and cultural events.
Designed by John Eberson, the world's foremost theatre architect of the time, the Radio Keith Orpheum (RKO) owned facility spared no expense in its design and boasted an ornate Austrian Baroque design with "atmospheric" elements in the auditorium. Though many changes have taken place since its opening, the Palace has retained most of its original design features, including an impressive brass chandelier in the main lobby, original murals painted by Hungarian artists, Andrew Karoly and Louis Szanto and plaster beams in the fore-lobby painted to resemble carved wood.
Originally presenting vaudeville acts between feature films, the Palace Theatre was uniquely able to weather the intensely competitive storm brought on by the introduction of the "talkies". Due to its size, facilities and location, the Palace Theatre became Albany's premier first-run movie house and remained reasonably successful despite corporate upheavals and the economic turmoil of the time. After World War II, however, the fortunes of the Palace like most inner-city movie houses began to decline. The advent of the television, the rise of suburbia and the virtual abandonment of downtown, contributed to the Palace's declining fortune. Despite a quarter-million dollar renovation in 1960 the theatre continued to lose money.
The Palace Theatre finally closed its doors in September, 1969. Shortly thereafter, the theatre was purchased from Fabian Enterprises (a subsidiary of FAST Theatres) for $90,000 by the City of Albany for use as a civic auditorium. In recognition of its architectural and historical significance, the Palace Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in November of 1979.
Established in 1984 and incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in 1989, the Palace Performing Arts Center, Inc. was created to operate the Palace Theatre and utilize its full potential as a cultural and entertainment center in Albany. The Palace Theatre once again became, and continues to be, among the most diversified venues in the capital district. The revitalization of the Palace Theatre has been a major priority for the City of Albany to help create a new energy for the downtown and entertainment district.
The Palace Theatre underwent extensive renovations throughout 2002 and 2003, including a new state-of-the-art LED marquee, replicating the original 1931 design. Today, the Palace Theatre proudly continues its tradition of hosting the finest in live entertainment. Home to the Albany Symphony Orchestra, artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen, Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, and Melissa Etheridge have graced the palace stage over the years, along with world-class ballet, Broadway, family and children's theatrical productions, city-sponsored events and a classic Hollywood film series. Once again, the Palace Theatre stands as the premier entertainment destination in the Capital Region.