Palace Theatre (Columbus, Ohio)
Keith-Albee Palace, RKO Palace
|Address||34 W. Broad Street|
|Owner||Columbus Association for the Performing Arts|
|Current use||Performing arts center|
|Architect||Thomas W. Lamb|
The Palace Theatre is a 2,827-seat restored movie palace located at 34 W. Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio. It was designed and built in 1926 by the American architect Thomas W. Lamb as part of the American Insurance Union Citadel (now LeVeque Tower). Today the theater functions as a multi-use performing arts venue. It is owned and operated by The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts. The Palace Theater's "house" is considered separate from LeVeque Tower, while the Marquee and lobby are part of the Leveque complex.
The Palace Theatre was designed by Thomas W. Lamb in his signature "Adam" style, reminiscent of the 18th century neo-classical work of the Scottish architects James and Robert Adam. Originally named Keith-Albee Theatre, its construction was personally supervised by the vaudeville mogul Edward Albee of the Keith-Albee circuit. It opened in 1926 as the Keith-Albee Palace and featured live vaudeville along with silent feature films, an orchestra and Miss Buckeye, a wonderful Style 260 3/16 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ. The Organ is now located at Thomas Worthington High School as of 1975.
The dressing room tower in the backstage area was designed as a small hotel, complete with a “front desk,” where performers picked up their room keys and mail. Kitchen facilities and a children’s playroom were available. The dressing rooms are named after cities on the vaudeville touring routes. The under stage room includes an animal shower and small sanitary stable, along with a ramp built for hoofed animals to help facilitate their transport to and from the stage during the Vaudeville era.
In 1929, the Palace was renamed the RKO (Radio Keith Orpheum) Palace. The theater was closed as a movie theater by RKO in 1975. It was later renovated and preserved by owner Katherine LeVeque as a home for Opera Columbus and touring Broadway shows. In 1989, the Palace Theatre was purchased by the non-profit theater management company CAPA, which consolidated its administrative functions with those of the Ohio Theatre. The Palace now hosts performances by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Jazz Arts Group, the Broadway Series, and scores of CAPA-sponsored shows.
While the insurance company behind the Citadel complex went bankrupt in the early 1930s, their financial mismanagement did not affect the day to day operations of the RKO Palace Theater.
The Palace's Wurlitzer organ was removed in the 1960s by the Central Ohio Theatre Organ Society and is now installed at Thomas Worthington High School in Worthington, Ohio.