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RGRTA Digs Up Rochester’s Old RKO Palace Theater

August 23rd, 2012

The former RKO Palace Theater on Clinton Ave. It was partially unearthed this week by crews building the future RTS bus terminal.
There are few places Rochesterians talk about with such fondness as the old RKO Palace Theater that once stood on Clinton Avenue. Looking at old pictures, I can see why. The place was all dressed up and sparkled inside and out like a glitzy Vegas showgirl. But like many of Rochester’s brick and mortar beauties, she grew old, was chopped up into little pieces, and buried where she stood. All in the name of “urban renewal.” Fast forward fifty years. RGRTA breaks ground on a new bus terminal. And guess what shows up? That’s right – the skeleton of Rochester’s most beautiful movie theater…

The auditorium floor and stage area of the old RKO Palace are on the left. The open pit on the right is filled with bricks and what appears to be a structural column. Mortimer Street is in the foreground with Saint Paul Street on the far left and Clinton Ave on the far right.
A friend dropped me a line today and asked if I had been over to Mortimer Street lately. Why in the hell would I go to Mortimer Street I thought? He tells me RGRTA has unexpectedly unearthed the floor of the old RKO Palace Theater. HOLY SHIT! Three minutes later I was snapping these photos. Click on the photo above for a full panorama shot of the construction site. It shows the bowl-shaped floor of the auditorium on the left, with the outline of stage clear as day. On the right is an open pit filled with bricks and rubble. Can you believe all of this was sitting under just a few inches of asphalt since 1965?!

A few of the bus terminal developers were on site when I got there, standing on the sidewalk and analyzing the situation through the chain-link fence. I asked one of them what they were planning on doing with their new discover. One of them jokingly said, “We’re gonna rebuild it.” We all had a good laugh. Then I got real serious and asked if I could help. Ultimately they told me it will take some time to figure out what to do. How much of it to rip out. How much can be buried over once again. One way or the other, the Palace will be put back to rest and the RTS bus terminal external link will be built.

They also pointed out the holes in the auditorium floor (seen in the photo above). Those were actually for air-conditioning vents which blew cool air from beneath the seats. Cutting edge technology for the time. This theater opened in 1928.

Below is a close up of the under side of the auditorium floor. Looks like there’s an entire building underneath there waiting to be explored…

A close up of the under side of the auditorium floor. Looks like there's an entire building underneath there still.

And here’s a close up of the rubble pit. These are probably bricks from the exterior of the front lobby. Looks like a structural column in there too…

A close up of the RKO Palace rubble pit. These are probably bricks from the exterior of the front lobby.

RKO Palace was, of course, a movie theater. But according to this article external link, like many theaters of the time it had live shows on the 80 foot deep stage, short subjects and a sing-along in addition to the main feature. The side of the building advertised “The Showplace of Rochester”, and as you went in the main entrance, there was the proclamation over the doors “Rochester’s Most Beautiful Theater”.

Thanks to my friend Mr. Decker external link for digging up the following photos we can all gawk at longingly. Here’s what the inner lobby looked like during Christmas time…

The RKO Palace Theater's front lobby. [PHOTO: Rochester Theater Organ Society via our good friend Howard Decker

And here’s a shot of the front lobby…

The RKO Palace Theater's front lobby. [PHOTO: Rochester Theater Organ Society via our good friend Howard Decker

Seems ashame to bury a local treasure like this for a second time. I wonder if there’s a way the RTS terminal floor could be made out of glass?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 at 9:11 pm and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

100 Responses to “RGRTA Digs Up Rochester’s Old RKO Palace Theater”

  1. Patty Remmell says:

    I was lucky enough to attend movies there before they tore it down. As a child, I saw it as a real palace and it was always a huge treat when my dad took me to the movies.

  2. Luke Myer says:

    Looks incredible…I wish I could have seen it!

  3. erik stonehan says:

    I lived in that neighborhood for years and I always wondered what was there. Beautiful building. I wish I was around 70years ago to see it in its full luster.

  4. Makes you think doesn’t it? There could be a story under each one of these parking lots…

  5. Thank you for this wonderful article! It has been shared on the website and Facebook page for the Theatre Historical Society of America – the only organization in the United States specifically dedicated to the history and education of all forms of American theaters. The RKO in Rochester was THE most glamorous of the Rochester palaces – thank you for the vintage photos that show her off to a whole new generation!

  6. @Karen, thank you for sharing the story. I will check out the Theatre Historical Society site!

  7. Mittens says:

    Cool find! Too bad it couldn’t be found under more positive circumstances.

  8. Heads up… News 8 WROC will air this story tonight at 5:30p. Tune in!

  9. Tim Schramm says:

    The Wurlitzer theatre organ that was once there is now housed in the Auditorium Theatre. It is owned and maintained by the Rochester Theatre Organ Society of which I am vice-president. We are one of the largest theatre organ groups in the country and the organ can be heard in monthly concerts. Many of our members have pictures of the RKO Palace and it’s Wurlitzer. Just do a google search of our “organ”-i-zation and you’ll find us. Our Wurlitzer, once housed on the old RKO Palace, is one of the finest theatre organs in the country.

  10. Chris says:

    Great photos, thanks for sharing!

  11. Brian Kelly says:

    Rochester lost ALL of its movie *palaces*, unlike most other American cities (even lowly Oakland has two beautifully restored jewels). I saw “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the Palace at the opening day matinee (Christmas week of 1946). And, yes, I remember that tree!).

    I was so enthralled by “Life” that I returned to see it three more times during opening week, each time bringing relatives along with me. As I recall, the theatre was packed each time.

    Going to the Palace was a glorious experience.

  12. Rick says:

    Pretty fascinating. I was about 8 when it was torn down, but, sadly, never got to actually see it. I’ve only gotten to hear about it from my parents, aunts, uncles, even older brothers that got to go there regularly back in the day. I find it appalling to think that city leaders back then saw no value in preserving this impossible-to-duplicate masterpiece of architecture. Probably the classiest building this city ever had accessible to the public. Recently I’ve managed to get the privilege of being on the maintenance staff of that incredible Wurlitzer organ now in the Auditorium and now I get to hear all about the theater from the guys that were there when the organ was, thankfully, salvaged by them. Makes me wish all the more that I could’ve seen it. They’ve kept about a 3 sq. foot piece of plaster ornamentation on the inside door to the relay room, that’s about as close as I’ll ever get to the place. As Tim Schramm pointed out previously, the organ is in absolute pristine condition still and concerts are played monthly, hopefully some of you will look up the RTOS website and come check it out in September!

  13. Jeff Freeland says:

    Typically there was a huge room sized volume of open space often tall enough to stand in, and called a plenum, under the entire auditorium floor which acted as a sort of reservoir for the ventilation system. It fed those mushroom shaped vents, the holes for which remain in the floor shown above. This was the end of a long line of Victorian and early Twentieth century era innovations, before air conditioning, for moving truly massive amounts of air through public spaces. They had become masters at it.

  14. Gorgeous Theater!!! Unfortunately, many other such landmarks across this country had the same fate. It is ironic that just as with this theater, the current plan to build a bus barn violates the vast majority of residents who spoke out against it. They instead were in favor of an intermodal plan that truly connected a full range of transportation options in one area. The historic powers that be did not listen to the response of value for the “Palace”as today elected officials ignored the majority who rejected the backward looking and ugly building that will replace a beautiful one.

  15. Michael Graves says:

    The destruction of the RKO Palace in order to build an apartment complex with a smaller theater was one of many architectural and cultural crimes visited on this community in the name of progress. The complex was never built and a modernized Palace would have been a great performing arts center

  16. Tim Schramm says:

    We were lied to! Unless every brick and slab of concrete was removed from the site,there was NO WAY another structure was ever going to be built. The story I heard (and I don’t know if it’s true) is back in the 60’s when all the urban development moeney became available, the mob decided to go into the building destroying business. There was NEVER, EVER a reason for the Palace to come down, nor had they EVER planned another building to be erected there. They just simply bulldozed it in. Go to my site!/media/set/?set=a.4509682903974.187919.1347641891&type=1 and you’ll see all the pics I took.

  17. Rick says:

    Hey Tim, I see you were there too. I went down with a camera Saturday and got some pix. Looks like they actually let you inside? Wouldn’t mind getting a brick! BTW, I was looking at your pics on FB, #10 and #35, is that the same ad painted up on the side of the building in the background?

  18. David says:

    Wow — this is amazing! I found this courtesy of my friends at THS. Oh, how I wish this theater was still standing!

  19. Greg says:

    The RKO was one of the great ones! My grandmother took me to see ‘Old Yellar’ there.
    Saturday mornings the RPO would run ’50 cartoons’
    It’s a shame we didn’t think ahead and save these landmark along with The Paramont, Regent, Lowes, The Riveria.

  20. Great work on the article & photos. I spent a lot of time at the RKO Palace & even went to it’s last screening. My Grandma took me to see “The Shaggy Dog” there when I was very little. I remember being young and still realizing what a shame it was that they were tearing it down. I also went to the last screening at the Lowe’s Theater, The Paramount and the Liberty Theater which was in my neighborhood on Driving Park Ave. where my brother was an usher. Boy I miss those 50 cartoons on a Saturday afternoons.

  21. @Fred, you guys should seriously do a documentary on the Palace Theater! It could be part 2 of the “End of the Line” series! :-)

  22. I would love to, but it always comes down to funding.

  23. Rick says:

    I’d buy that video. Got “End Of the Line” a few years ago and couldn’t pull myself away, similar one on the Palace would be a good combo!

  24. Jim says:

    Great pics, and websites. Thanks to all for sharing.
    I am fortunate to have been to that theater many times before its demise, but way too young then to have known the details.

  25. Dennis Stenglein says:

    Great pictures! I was about 5 years old when the RKO came down. I don’t remember going to it. I wish I did. Just like everything else good in Rochester. Some politician has his hand in something, and is going to make a buck by getting rid of another Jewel in our city. Look at Silver Stadium. That was all politically motivated, and had nothing to do with parking, or the patron’s safety. They could have built a parking garage right there in the stadium parking lot. That beautiful facade of the Security Trust Bank, on the corner of Main and St Paul could have been built into the convention center. I am surprised they haven’t talked about tearing down the Eastman Theater. Gotta love those politicians.

  26. jasen says:

    Does anyone remember when a temporary screen was transported into the Palace to screen a 3 projection movie call Cinerama. The Screen was huge and extended beyond both sides of the stage. The movie was a spectacular but was only shown for approximately a month. It was outstanding for its time and dwarfed Cinemascope movies of that era.

  27. Skip says:

    Thank you for the article and pics. I remember watching vaudeville there as a kid, then was fortunate enough to work there and at the Paramount as an usher in the late 1950s.

  28. kevin knapp says:

    What a small town berg Rochester is.I am surprised that the Wurlitzer still exists.Clunkheaded city fathers thought that tearing down a city jewel was a good idea??? Since 1965 that weed infested, never used parking lot was a testimony to the stupid decisions made as far as Rochester.(see the fast ferry,and Kodaks decision to shelve digital photography)Benvenuto Wrecking Company does not exist anymore,yet the floor of the RKO PALACE THEATER does???…..ahhhhh…justice…..The old lady just won’t die…GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. kevin knapp says:

    “Take paradise,put up a parking lot”…could not resist.

  30. kevin knapp says:

    Simpleton Rochester back in the day, just stood there gawking while Benvenuto wrecked a treasure!!!!!!! Typical for this dumpy city…Rochesterians ain’t the brightest bulbs on the tree…

  31. Karen says:

    I think the song says “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot”. And they didn’t really do ANY of that… they just leveled a truly stunning architectural treasure and never even used the lot – such senseless waste. But… it stands as a sad lesson of living for the flavor of the moment (Urban Renewal) and not looking to the impact on the future.

  32. Don says:

    Any Fallow up on what happened?

  33. @Don, I’m not sure how much of the theater floor had to be removed, but the transit center is standing on top of it now.

  34. Kevin Knapp says:

    Ain’t that something.When I was a kid we used to take the bus up to “The Big City” for a quarter and stroll around such wonderful places like Midtown,the Clinton avenue joke shop,and the poster shops and all kinds of cool as hell ma,and pa shops near Midtown.Wonderful memories.One day when I was uptown,I strolled down Clinton Ave to Mortimer.I don’t really no why,but something prompted me to.When I was about ten the stupes in this city tore down the Palace Theater.At age ten I knew this was a huge mistake after hearing from my Grandparents,and parents how beautiful the Palace was.Anywho in 1969 like I said,I walked down Clinton avenue to mortimer.All I saw was a weed infested parking lot!!!!! I just knew though something wonderful and uplifting once stood on this footprint.Hey people.Some poetic justice is in order here.Frederico Wrecking Company “We Wreck Em” is now history since the eighties!!! Good….But the old girl had the last laugh.I love it.Kudo’s go up to Tim Schramm for the photo’s.

  35. kevin Knapp says:

    I you have never been to a theater organ concert folks,you have not lived yet.I am a sixty year old boomer musician,and a Hammond organ Fanatic.(Before Hammond went belly up and got bought up by some crappy motorcycle company)Anywho folks,Go to a Theater Organ Concert at the Aud.It will revive you,and blow the dust off of your soul.Just sayin.

  36. kevin Knapp says:

    I have heard the pathetic fake sounding theater organ digital crap online.It is like comparing a Pinto to a Stutz Bearcat,or a 65 Shelby Mustang.Also,while I am at it,hey Wilmorite,here is a little challenge to you.Try and Duplicate another Palace Theater in this day and age.I betch ya!!! You will loose!!!!!!!

  37. kevin Knapp says:

    Well,I am on a roll.America constantly gets a kick out of destroying it’s quality and then some past.What is up with that??? Europe does not shit on it’s past.All we need is another Tim Hortons on a corner,and all is fine…Uh HuH!!!!!!

  38. jasen says:

    I recently checked out the interior design of the Detroit Opera House and was amazed as to its resemblance to our beloved RKO Palace only on a larger scale. It’s also featured in “IL VOLO’s” DVD that was filmed there in 2011. Check it out!!

  39. John says:

    I was an usher at the Paramount next door in the early 50s. I remember I think in 1952 the Bwana devil played there. It was I think the first 3D movie. I could tell by the screams when the native threw his spear.It looked like it was coming into the audience.I remember the Loews on south Clinton had usherettes. I knew a girl that was one of them. She used to get me tickets.That was a beautiful theater also.

  40. kevin j knapp says:

    The city of Rochester,sure likes to tout itself as some kind of cultural mecca… Tv ten tells me so!!!!!!!!…..I don’t think so.Try in 2013 to duplicate the beauty of the theaters we used to have,built in a time when even the lowly Black and Decker electric screwdriver had not been invented yet.Rochester likes to destroy it’s wonderful past.Is this a mental issue,or a money issue?????

  41. kevin j knapp says:

    I would like to hear from one person,just one,who could justify the destruction of the Palace Theater.Sad really sad…..

  42. kevin j knapp says:

    Midtown gets torn down so that “Maybe” some yuppie company can move in.Ah yes,gentrification.Always good for a huge laugh!!!!! The world is now safe for the “Job Creators”.Meanwhile,the middle class is standing there wondering “What Happened to the place I grew up in????”,while shrugging the shoulders as they always do…..just sayin….

  43. kevin j knapp says:

    Benevenuto Wrecking Company,got the contract for tearing down the Palace…HHHHMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!

  44. John says:

    I wonder how many other ushers & usherettes are still around.It has been many years since I have been down town other than to do some business. There are so many things I miss. Mr. Peanut handing out samples around the corner from the theaters on Main st. The dept. stores had warm nuts & candy by the pound at their candy counters.The huge Sears store on Monroe ave. Sibley’s was a store that you could buy nearly anything you needed. Their deli couldn’t be beat. I guess unless you experienced it you wouldn’t believe it.The picture booths & lunch counter in Neisner’s The lunch counters in Kresge’s.Bulls head was a decent area. I guess I’m lucky to have been there and enjoyed it. I could go on and on. I guess you can’t go back but the country sure has changed and not for the better.

  45. John says:

    When you see how our society has changed. It’s no wonder everything has gone to the dogs. Look around you. It wasn’t only the tearing down of our buildings. I admit I don’t know the answer but their is a segment of our society that has to try to destroy everything they see.The thing I wonder about is why there are people that think it’s okay to spray paint buildings,railroad cars. You name it and it’s called art by a number of people.Look at the trains as they go by. That’s art? The theaters had a problem and I think probably still do with seats carved up and gum on them. I won’t say it didn’t happen years ago but I think maybe it is much worse now. There are stabbings & shooting everywhere. Sorry I see what our society has become and I long for the old days more & more.The police have their hands tied.
    A few years ago someone I know caught a teenager trying to break into his garage. He ran out and grabbed and held him until the police arrived. He was told that he was breaking the law because he held him. I guess he should have just watched him break in and steal. When the black guy in Greece shot & killed a kid because he was running at him in the wee hours of the morning. They pretty much destroyed the guys life.What the hell was him and his friends doing out at that hour. Where were their parents?Probably home smoking dope. He was acquitted but in the mean time he is probably in debt for life.The same goes for the man in Florida.He still isn’t off the hook.I don’t condone shooting anyone but when you feel threatened I think in some cases it’s justified. The kids that were with him should have been punished for breaking into cars. Or is that permissible now also? I guess I’ve pretty much had my say. I would like to have some answers though.

  46. kevin knapp says:

    Who is the “man in florida”???? Would it happen to be that stupid ass Zimmermann who shot an unarmed black kid for nothing more than “Walking while black”???

  47. John says:

    I agree that Zimmerman may be a stupid ass but we may never know the whole story of what really happened. Remember Zimmerman was attacked by a much younger man. Just being challenged doesn’t justify attacking Zimmerman. I believe there is enough evidence to say they were both a bit screwy. I’m not black but I think it’s time the race card should be buried. Remember Zimmerman is not a white man either.

  48. Betty Regan Troy says:

    Old pictures have triggered many memories starting with the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral(now the Eastman Kodak business offices) Which was a beautiful church )to the Little French Church on Pleasant St. which was at the backdoor of of R

  49. jasen says:

    Can anyone locate a picture of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Franklin St. before it burned?

  50. @Jasen, there’s one image of St. Joseph’s from 1930 at the end of this article here…

    It doesn’t show much more than what’s there now though.

  51. D B says:

    To add insult to injury, the Mortimer St. garage was built so poorly, it started falling apart shortly after construction.

    Any guesses as to who owned the co’s and ran the unions which built it?

    The Mob!

    It was an eyesore for decades, and yet another stupid idea on the part of the city fathers.

  52. John says:

    I just heard on the radio there is concern the buses may not fit.

  53. @John, are you able to find a link to that story online?

  54. John says:

    No I was listening to Bob Lonsberry and a caller said it.

  55. Jeff says:

    oh that’s a reliable source. come on people think, or at least do some legwork before you pass on rumors.

  56. John says:

    What the hell are we doing here? Does everything have to be verified before it is written? The way that our city does things it would be par for the course.I love how they just moved the problem about two blocks.

  57. Jeff says:

    here are some images and history for St Joseph’s. The campus was nearly the entire block, with separate buildings for the church, rectory, nunnery, school, and etc… It and St. Michael’s were the preeminent German Catholic congregations in the city.

  58. Richard G. Hamlin says:

    Having been born in Rochester Ny in 1947, I remember well the three major theaters on Clinton Ave. The Lowes Rochester, Rko Palace and the Paramount. In the day I would spend the whole day at one of these beautiful movie palaces watching the same movie over and over. It is sad to think that the city fathers had no vision back in 65 when all of these landmarks were so unceremoniously destroyed. If there is nostalgia and longing for these grand old vaudeville houses it is due to the renaissance of live theater in recent times. The people who were responsible for these wonderful magical venus destruction should be wracked with remorse over there demise. Thank goodness the grand theater organ was saved.

  59. John says:

    Are you related to Roy Hamlin (Deceased)? that worked at Kodak?

  60. Skip says:

    Or Chip Hamlin who worked at Rochester General Hospital?

  61. kevin knapp says:

    I went to the almost sold out show “Once Upon A Dream” at the aud last month.The young rascals sounded great,but then again they always did! I was also trying to figure out where the pipe chambers for the Wurlitzer theater organ,that used to sit in the Beautiful Palace are hidden.Anybody know?????

  62. kevin knapp says:

    I just can’t imagine the kind of “soul healing” that must have happened back in the day,to people that had the fortune to attend a silent movie in that gorgeous theater,with that Wurlitzer providing the music.We have progressed??? Oh wait,we have “Duck Dynasty”,Digital fake sounding keyboards now,and Baggers….uh huh……I get it!!!!! NOT!!!!!!!!!

  63. Rick says:

    The pipe chambers are in the proscenium arch (the grillwork) that goes up and over the stage. 1 each side, the floor of the chambers are about even with the “exit” signs and the chambers go up about 30′. They’re trapezoidal and measure about 15’x20′. The sound actually exits at the upper end of the chambers (where the curve of the arch begins to go horizontal)through the swell shades. Go to the RTOS website and you can find a lot of info n the organ. Today that organ is better than new in many ways, has been added to and is really one of the finest of its’ type in existence.

  64. kevin knapp says:

    Nothing was ever going to be built back in the day, on that site,due to what was still buried under a weed infested,never used parking lot.Anybody know what happened to the basement of the Palace Theater,after RGRTA discovered it some forty eight years later??????Hell,the Wurlitzer Theater Organ “Blower” must have sat in that basement.

  65. Rick says:

    BTW, I meant to mention – you’re probably wondering where the console is. It’s in the very center of the orchestra pit directly in front of the stage. No really! It’s on a lift and is lowered and stored below floor level when not in use. You can see the cut-out in the carpet, about 8′ square.

  66. kevin knapp says:

    The Palace Theater footprint on Clinton and Mortimer….”Hallowed Ground ” I say…..

  67. kevin knapp says:

    Hey folks!!!! Lets tear down another great old built to last building,and put up another Tim Hortons or Walmart.Yeah….uh huh……NOT!!!!!!

  68. kevin knapp says:

    Thank you Rick for the info!! I appreciate it.I kind of had a feeling that the arch contained the chambers,but I wasn’t sure.Hey,if you have a chance,check out John Clark Mccall and his talent on a theater organ.My Mp3 player is loaded w/ his “soul healing”….Lord almighty!!!!!

  69. Rick says:

    They were originally going to build some kind of “entertainment complex” after razing the theater. Once they tore it down they didn’t worry at the time about the basement being buried there, they’d get to it when the new complex went up. But it never did go up and the basement was forgotten. I never got to see that place but I have a brochure on it put out by RTOS at the time, I’ve seen many pics, and it just makes me sick to my stomach that such a gorgeous place was destroyed. Today it would’ve been a landmark and probably forever exempt from the ball. If it’d only survived a few more years! And to think, it’s design life was well over 100 years, it cost a fortune to build and yet, they destroyed it after only 37 years. Sickening!

  70. kevin knapp says:


  71. kevin knapp says:

    I know Rick,sickening to me also.I was only ten when they stupidly tore that treasure down,but at age ten I knew it was a stupid assed move.Anywho,I went on to become a half way decent guitar/Hammond organ player.I have two Hammond organs,and a model 147 Leslie speaker.I must say though,how come the former Hammond Organ Company,that made extremely reliable fabulous sounding keyboards,is now owned by some crappy motorcycle company called SUZUCKI that makes Hammond b3 fakers.I have a model L-143 from 1965 that somebody just tossed out.It sat for about a week and a half in rochester on and off rain on the curb.I trucked it home,let it dry out for two days,and plugged it in.Guess what,the mechanical tone generator sprang to life,and the only problem w/ it was a lack of audio due to a dirty tube socket! Gotta love “Made in America”!!

  72. kevin knapp says:

    And I am one of those “Commie Liberals”….I love “back in the day” american made products,and old classic buildings like The Palace.Just sayin…….

  73. kevin knapp says:

    “Entertainment Complex” seems to be the norm for this society.Wanna bet the ww1 crowd had more sense and critical thinking skills than the dopes that ran this city around 1964??????? Now look…..”Duck Dynasty”,and “Here comes honey boo boo”,and dreck like Mylie cyrus.”The beat goes on”

  74. kevin knapp says:

    I would just love to know what kind of cronyism went on back in the day,IN ROCHESTER NY as far as the BENVENUTO WRECKING COMPANY getting the go ahead as far as wrecking the palace.Karma is a bitch,and the BENVENUTO WRECKING COMPANY went belly up in the eighties.Gee no shit!!!! Just sayin…I am always aware of the bullshit Rochester NY Cronyism…”Gaggie” Brooks is a perfect example….

  75. kevin knapp says:

    Gee,lets see.Does the destruction of the Palace have anything to do w/ the destruction of one the first Malls in America on main street Rochester Ny??? Ahhh yes….the “Midtown Record Shop”.. Very pleasant memories…Hey is a yuppie/BOOMER outfit like Paetec going to build anything there….???? Gentrification,now thats the ticket!!! YUCK!!!!!!!!!!

  76. kevin knapp says:

    “Gaggie Brooks”used to be a TV TEN talking head.Now tv ten in Rochester, seems to be the “go to” as far as the “evils” of NYS,and the “Celebrity Gossip”…”Access Hollywood” bullshit. Yeah,if you have two brain cells to rub together you will avoid “Access Hollywood”… just sayin.. and I am one of them “thur” Liberals..aint that a bitch????

  77. kevin knapp says:

    The destruction of the Palace Theater has everything to do w/ Greed, and short term profits, and lack of empathy for anything Magnificent.Just sayin…

  78. Rick says:

    Man, that’s quite the rampage there. Well, commie lib, funny you should mention that…now, I could be wrong BUT – back in the day when Johnson took over, it was his “urban renewal” crap that spawned this whole mess. He suddenly made all this federal money available to tear down old buildings to bring in the new. Basically, our left wing federal govt. are the bastards that took our taxpayer money to bring the ball to the RKO. Suffice it to say, had Kennedy not been shot the RKO probably would still stand. Strange – and sad – how that all works. As always, it’s always politics the ruins a good thing for everyone. As you say, it was greed, there was money to be made by the wrecking companies and they capitalized on it.

  79. Jeff says:

    Hey, television, white flight and a lack of movie going public were the cause of these theaters going the way of the dodo. The city just approved what private owners wanted to do. All you who live in the suburbs and do all your business out there, have the lions share of fault here. Stop blaming the city. YOU are the city.

  80. Rick says:

    Hey, I grew up in Webster, don’t blame me! :) Your “white flight” comment does make a point as we’re still seeing it. The fact is though, the entire US went on a “tear down all these gorgeous old theaters” rampage mostly in the name of “urban renewal” and that was mostly because the federal money became available. I guess that was all before the days of the term “landmark status”. I guess it was in hindsight of all this destruction that the term was coined in the first place. True, TV and talking movies, lack of movie-going, expensive heat & maintenance, all spelled the demise of these palaces. The only ones saved were when people started seeing what was happening and were determined to save some of what was left before they all disappeared. Hence, the Auditorium still stands.

  81. Jeff says:

    Urban renewal teardown only happens when the public doesn’t care to stop it. I just see a lot of people complaining on sites like this about how sad it is that some nameless bogeyman “THEY” are tearing things down. Yet in the last couple years, many buildings have come down for lack of support, and two major historic house museums (the Rochester Historical Society and the Campbell-Whittlesey House) have closed. All because the bean counters are in charge of even not-for-profits. Time for people to act, here and now, to save what we have rather than assigning blame for actions of 50 years ago.

    BTW, the Auditorium (not a movie palace) and the Eastman (which was) still stand because they continued to have foot traffic which keep them going. They also were not allow to become utterly decrepit and filthy. Government support certainly helped Eastman to muddle on.

    Ultimately we are the government. We make it work, or it ceases to work for us and fails.

  82. Ruby says:

    Yes, the Aud and the Eastman still stand. The Aud was owned by a private social organization (right?) and the Eastman was part of the school. That’s why those two still stand.

    It was the blight of “urban renewal” that caused people to stand up and say NO MORE and that’s when the National Trust for Historic Preservation came to the forefront. It caused a whole new view of what was “historic” and “historic architecture” was no longer solely somewhere that “Washington slept”.

    We know better now, but tragically it took the wanton destruction of so many great buildings to slap everyone into action. Thankfully, we still have wonderful photographs and artifacts of many of these wonderful theaters. And look how long this blog has been generating passionate discourse?? People do still care and care enough not to let this kind of thing happen again. It gives me hope!

  83. Ruby says:

    Another thought: Should that “entertainment complex” been built, what’s to say it too would not have become “disposable architecture” itself? OR (horrors) maybe Miley “Circus” would have been grinding her stuff on the stage! Even worse!!

  84. kevin knapp says:

    “Miley Circus”….excellent!!!! I could not have said it better….The pathetic state of music, and what passes as entertainment now ,is a canary in the coal mine indicator of a not wound that tight society.Lady Gaga on one hand is very talented as a singer and piano player.But what is up w/ all the goofy looking getups and weird antics???? She needs to grow up and dump the clowns advising her on her career.

  85. kevin knapp says:

    If the palace had lasted into 2013,and I say if,knowing the stupid decisions done in this small town berg in the name of “progress”,it could have become a performing arts center.But NO!!!!! Can’t do that!!!!!!

  86. kevin knapp says:

    Rochester Ny has produced some of the most amazing performers over the years.But this “corpo grey” dump likes to shoot itself in the foot constantly.I don’t get it…..

  87. kevin knapp says:

    One poster mentioned Oakland California and it’s preserved theaters.What’s wrong w/ this city????

  88. kevin knapp says:

    Since the fifties, in Monroe County,way to much attention has been payed to “suburbs” where “Life is Worth Living”…gotta say that whoever came up w/ that stupid line needs to get a life.Front Street,Palace Theater,Midtown,etal,now all gone.”Mission Accomplished”

  89. kevin knapp says:

    I must say that the greater Rochester Ny area,went extremely whole hog for the “Pleasant Valley Sunday” myth in the fifties.Resources and bucks went to destroying farm lands,and putting up “Little Pink Houses”….The city where “cool” always lived, then rotted from the center.The Palace was extremely “cool”.So was Midtown..

  90. kevin knapp says:

    I am white,and my wife is african american,so don’t “go there” posters blaming the demise of cities on you know “who”.Just sayin.

  91. kevin knapp says:

    Nice article in the Saturday Nov 16th D and C on page 4a about the Palace.Check it out…..

  92. Steve says:

    It looked a wonderful place. The shame is when it was buried the first time.
    I am from Rome and a lot of American friends always ask me how can we have so much history, ancient buildings and they don’t have any. I always say them that if you don’t start to preserve instead of tearing down it is never going to happen.
    Think about the Colosseum as a Boston Garden of 2000 years ago….

  93. John Midavaine says:

    I agree with everyone that have posted comments. Rochester has demolished some of the most beautiful treasures like the Palace that today would be tremendous assets to the community. Our wonderful city fathers even considered demolishing the Eastman Theater back in the 60s. With all that that this city has willfully destroyed over the years I keep wondering why we keep hanging onto the wall of one of the old Bausch and Lomb buildings near the corner of St. Paul and Bausch Streets, and the burned out skeleton of St. Joseph’s church on Pleasant St. Can anyone give an enlightened reason?

  94. "Davis" says:

    I can’t help but to wonder who benefited from the removal of the lavish decor of all of these demolished theater; ie: chandeliers, wall art, brass decor, seats, fancy cabinetry and fixtures, etc. I doubt it was all thrown in the trash. It became someone’s gold. Thank goodness the organs were saved, at least the one from the Palace.

  95. @Davis, that’s an interesting point. Anything that wasn’t removed prior to demolition typically became property of the demo company unless it was stipulated in the work contract that certain items would be handed over. I’m doing some investigating for an upcoming story right now that is sort of related to this. Stay tuned.

  96. Jim says:

    I can’t wait to find out what happened to all the chandeliers, rococo statuary, etc. Will be waiting for the story. Good luck.
    Another interesting story would be the Wegmans that was on West Main Street, near Brown Street.

  97. JoeV says:

    The Wegmans at Bulls Head was the shopping mecca for all us area residents. During the 1940’s we had Wegmans, Harts and Weber markets within walking distance of each other. All 3 began their demise when Bull’s Head Plaza was constructed in the late 40’s, early 50’s, with its major tenant being a self-serve A&P Supermarket. Unfortunately, during this era, convenience took precedent over freshness of foods offered by local markets.

  98. Danny Schultz says:

    Hi; Reference comments #97 & 98. I personally purchased
    some furniture, chandeliers and the sing-along slide projector from the palace from the RKO district manager and most of the art items and larger chandeliers were sold to specialty buyers from NYC and other places. The drapes and plaster grilles which hung in front of the organ chamber were given to a friend, Dean Robinson who used them in his barn/ organ concert building in Hemrod, NY. He is deceased and I don’t know what happened to his pipe organ or the barn and it’s contents. The lobby “coming feature”easel is now in the Auditorium Theatre lobby and belongs to RTOS for their organ concert uses. Many memories from the Palace and a side note about the air conditioning system which piped cold air into the outlets above the auditorium and the floor vents drew the colder air out for heating or cooling and circulation back into the theatre.
    Thanks to RGRTA for documenting the “Resurrection”
    of the “bowels” of the Palace. I daily witnessed it’s destruction which was a move prompted by big money interests.

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