Palace Theatre

41 S. Main Street,
Akron, OH 44308

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: General Cinema Corp., Keith-Albee

Architects: Cornelius Ward Rapp, George W. Leslie Rapp

Firms: Rapp & Rapp

Styles: French Renaissance

Previous Names: Keith-Albee Palace Theatre, RKO Palace Theatre

Nearby Theaters

1963 photo courtesy Vince Nicklin‎.

The Keith-Albee Palace Theatre was opened on April 26, 1926 for both movies and vaudeville. The opening program featured Keith-Albee Vaudeville and on the screen was the Cecil B. DeMille production of “Three Faces East”. The building was built by the Polsky’s (of Polsky’s Department Store) and run by the Keith-Albee circuit. It was equipped with a Skinner 3 manual 15 ranks organ. In 1930 it was briefly renamed RKO Palace Theatre. From 1933 it was name Palace Theatre. It was closed as a movie theatre by General Cinema Corp. on March 1, 1966 with Tom Adams in “The Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World”.

It reopened as a live events theatre in 1969 as the Palace Theatre, but this use failed and later in 1969 it began use as a church. A broken water main in January 1970 halted that use and the Palace Theatre was demolished in October 1970, and the site (a parking lot) is currently owned by the Akron-Summit County Public Library.

Contributed by Rolling Acres

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Patsy on August 3, 2006 at 2:27 pm

It’s amazing to learn that all of the RKO Palace Theatres listed on CT are all “closed/demolished”. Such a shame.

fmbeall on July 24, 2007 at 6:07 pm

I was in the theatre once – very nice but fairly plain. The auditorium with another entrance was on the next next street over and ran parallel to the street. The Main St. entrance was quite long and narrow to reach the 200 or so feet to the auditorium.

Jason Fox
Jason Fox on June 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm

The Keith-Albee Palace Theatre was designed by Rapp and Rapp.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 5, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Patsy (re your comment of 3/3/06), the RKO Palace in Columbus, Ohio, is alive and well (though no longer showing movies)

Hibi on June 11, 2015 at 1:38 pm

The RKO Palace in Cleveland is also doing fine as a performing arts theater…….

Akronflicks on October 27, 2015 at 11:47 pm

House On Haunted Hill…They had a plastic skeleton that was in a box and on a wire that came out when the movie turned scary.

It scared no one and the kids in the balcony almost ripped it off the wire. The manager or owner, who I remember as a not so nice guy, was furious and tossed a lot of kids out of the theater that day.

rivest266 on November 5, 2016 at 12:05 pm

April 26th, 1926 grand opening ad in the photo section.

dallasmovietheaters on February 8, 2023 at 6:39 am

The Keith-Albee Palace Theatre was the third Palace Theatre in Akron and by far its most remembered. Rapp & Rapp went for a Louis XV design with interior colors of rose, blue, black and gold. The venue was actually two buildings - one was the lobby, arcade and passageway to the second building - the auditorium. Two levels below the auditorium was the venue’s and the arcade’s kitchen. Up one level was the stagehands, musician’s, and animal handler’s rooms. On the main floor were dressing rooms.

The venue would both get sound and - with the founding of RKO Pictures in 1929 - it would be renamed. The Albee name was retired in many Keith-Albee locations. The Akron venue was slightly renamed in 1930 as the RKO Palace Theater. It was a name that would be short-lived. The RKO nameplate was removed in 1933 when the venue was dropped by RKO and picked up by Chatfield Theaters as the Palace Theater. Monarch Theatres took on the venue shortly thereafter continuing it as the Palace Theater.

In 1945, Lou Gamble and Gamble Enterprises operated the venue also as the Palace Theater. Finally, on September 28, 1956, Smith Management / Midwest Drive-In Theaters (later General Drive-In and General Cinema) bought the lease of the venue from Gamble General Cinema Corp. closed the Palace Theater on March 1, 1966 at the end of a second 20-year leasing period with Karel Stepanek in “The Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World.” Manager Ernie Austgen had been the manager there since 1951 and was despondent by all reports.

The theater wasn’t quite done, however, reopening for live events as the Palace Theater into 1969. In 1969, it had a brief run as a house of worship as the Palace Club. But a broken water main in January of 1970 hastened the eventual course of the theater/club. The Palace was razed in October of 1970. The Palace had played host to Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby and many others. Even in demolition, one can see that the Palace had earned its moniker. The theater barely outlasted another of Akron’s long-standing downtown venues when the Colonial was also torn down earlier in 1970. Both the Colonial and the Palace became parking areas.

Obviously, the name of this entry should be the Palace Theatre… but because there were three Palace Theaters (see “Little Palace Theatre” for the second Akron Palace location), the RKO moniker does give it distinction.

dallasmovietheaters on February 9, 2023 at 7:42 am

Architectural Style: French Renaissance
Opening personnel included Catherine Bernower as organist and coming over from the Colonial Theatre after 11 years there was Orchestra Director “Professor” Roy Billings.

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