7505 NE 2nd Avenue,
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Styles: Atmospheric, Spanish Colonial
Previous Names: Rialto Theatre
The Rialto Theatre opened on June 12, 1926 with Ralph Lewis in “The Overland Limited”. It was an open-air theatre, consisting of four walls decorating in a Spanish style and no roof (a true Atmospheric style theatre). The only enclosed spaces were the ticket and projection booths, and a small back-stage area behind the screen. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ which was played at the opening by organist William B. Millette. It was closed in the early-1930’s.
It was reopened as the Edison Theatre on May 30, 1936 with Edward G. Robinson in “Barbary Coast”. It was now a semi-Atmospheric style theatre with 400 seats now under a roof and 100 seats in the open air.
It was a functioning neighborhood theatre showing double feature re-runs until closing in the late-1950’s or early-1960’s. The last time I passed by the site in January of 2002 the building had been converted into a sheet metal shop. it was demolished in the early-2000’s
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Recent comments (view all 6 comments)
As I went to this movie house as a small boy in the late 40’s and early 50’s to see many a Western B-movie double feature I know that the description is not accurate.
It was only half roofless. The rear, towards the lobby, was covered with padded seats. The open-air front half had wooden seats rather than padded ones. The stage was concrete with what appeared to be a Spanish mission motif with a simulated bell tower,complete with bell. and real palm trees on either side of the stage. It was rumored to originally be Miami’s 1st Drive-in but, I’m not so sure.
I’m a Ron also. Our family would go there because it was cheap. It was cooler in the open air part but you’d have to run like hell when a rain storm came up. The good thing was that it was hardly ever full and you could find a seat.
We probable went there less than 10 times, and 3 or 4 of them required rushing to the back. No matter how hard it poured the movie went on. There were times where you could hardly see the screen.
A slight aside to this, friends of parents owned the grocery store next door, Putzers. Mr. Putzer owned a small freight hauling ship. Because diabetes took his leg in the late 50’s, he could no longer captain and he would lease it out. One of the renters who leased the boat never brought it back as he had a “higher mission”. The renter, “Fidel Castro”.
The Rialto Theatre opened in 1926 as a completely open air facility with Spanish Atmospheric architecture doing live vaudeville. Four recessed bells carried out the Spanish Cathedral feel. Within two years, the film portion of presentations is what people wanted to see and the Edison became an Airdrome (not a drive-in) with far more architectural style than similar facilities. The Rialto struggled, closing during the Depression.
But John A. Cunningham took on the closed theater re-opening as the Edison Theatre and enclosing half of the auditorium now with 400 open air seats and 500 under a roof (see picture in Photos). With palm trees on each side of the theater, natural air, 100% smoker seating, and view to the sky, the Edison was truly a unique hybrid facility in the U.S. Charles O. Ozburn continued with the Edison to its closure in the 1950s as television and shifting populations took their toll on theaters.
I believe the theatre can be listed as demolished for all intense and purposes.
I like the photo in the photos section, though for some reason it no longer appears above on this overview page.
The Rialto theatre opened on June 12th, 1926 and listings stopped in 1928. It reopened as Edison on May 30th, 1936 and closed again in 1941. Grand opening ads posted.
I’m sure that the front half may have only had 100 seats not 1,000 shown in the description. Also it closed as a theater in the late 50’s or early 60’s. Shortly after it closed it became a ping-pong parlor which lasted a couple of years then it was a welding shop before it was demolished in the early 2000’s.