RKO Family Theater
526 Vine Street,
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Previously operated by: RKO
Firms: Kennedy & Adkins
Previous Names: Family Theater, Western Theater, New Lyric Theater
The Family Theater, a vaudeville and film venue, opened on February 20, 1911. The Family Theater was the second of Ike Libson’s chain of theaters starting with his Bijou Theater on Fountain Square in 1908. The combined vaudeville/films format changed to just movies in the first year with the house seating at 1,100. As an entertainment site the 526 Vine Street location started as a rough saloon named Kold & Middleton’s, then Heck & Avery’s Dime Museum, followed by the Majestic Concert Hall, a stage venue, all of these during the 1880’s.
By 1910, the Libson, Heidingsfeld, Harris chains from Pittsburgh combined and converted the Family Theater to a flicker show and vaudeville, going on to greater glories in December 1927 with the opening of the newly built Albee Theater on Fifth Street.
By 1930, Libson sold off his chain to RKO and the Family Theater became the RKO Family Theater at this time. On November 25, 1948 it was renamed Western Theater. On January 5, 1953, the Western Theater became the New Lyric Theater to take advantage of the name of its former neighbor at 508 Vine Street, the Lyric Theater, (built in 1905 as a legit playhouse and converted to films only in 1921, and razed in 1953).
The New Lyric Theater was closed on November 25, 1953. The theater was demolished in October 1957 and currently on the site is an Arby’s restaurant.
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