RKO Albee Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Cinema Treasures website)
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RKO Albee Theatre

1 Dekalb Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201







RKO Albee Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: AJWB Collection)  
   
RKO Albee Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: AJWB Collection)  
   
Grand Foyer of RKO Albee Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: AJWB Collection)  
The E.F. Albee Theatre, located on Dekalb Avenue, opened on January 25, 1925. It was named for Edward F. Albee (1857-1930) Benjamin Franklin Keith (1867-1914) and Edward Franklin Albee became partners in the late 1880s to promote "polite" vaudeville. They lavishly remodeled several theaters on the east coast and began producing a brand of "high class" vaudeville. Crude remarks and risqué costumes were censored from performances (then why go? --your webmaster) and they even attempted to prohibit rude behavior by audiences. Keith was the financial head of the circuit, while Albee was the general manager and owner of several theaters.

and had crystal chandeliers in the lobby and paintings from Albee's private collection. It also contained a 40 x 70 foot Czech Maffersdorf carpet billed as the world's largest rug.

The RKO Albee Theatre was closed in September 1978 and demolished in November 1978 to make way for the Albee Square Mall (which itself was demolished in the Summer of 2008).

Theatre was in the beaux arts style. Architect Thomas Lamb. Opened January 25, 1925 and demolished in November 1978. Prime Brooklyn RKO house.

The Beaux-Arts Albee Theatre, designed by Thomas Lamb, opened in 1925. The Albee was always considered one of the most important and beautiful theatres in Brooklyn. In its first years, it played two-a-day vaudeville exclusively, but finally had to give into the competition by adding a feature movie and shifting to continuous performances. Vaudeville was finally dropped in 1934-35 when it became economically unfeasible due to the Depression. As the RKO Albee, it was exclusive first-run for all of Brooklyn, getting the movies direct from their Broadway premiere engagements. However, due to the product "split" between three other downtown Brooklyn palaces-- the Fox, Metropolitan, and Paramount-- the Albee played mainly 20th Century-Fox and RKO releases. This meant, as it did with the other three theatres, that the double-feature programs usually had to be "held-over" for at least one extra week, which was not rewarding except in the cases of the biggest hit movies. Because of its size, the Albee suffered when the New York area switched to the "Premiere Showcase" type of saturation release and the theatre lost its exclusive status. Due to a simultaneous decline in downtown Brooklyn's shopping district, the Albee's demolition seemed inevitable as the community tried to save itself with new construction projects. cinematreasures

The last motion picture to play the RKO Albee Theater in Downtown Brooklyn before it was torn down in 1977 was “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” the film adaptation of the play by Edward Albee, who happened to be the adopted grandson of E. F. Albee, the vaudeville magnate who built the theater. "On this day in history," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb. 25, 2009.
             

  Neal Kissel with console of Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 870 (1924) shortly after its removal from the RKO Albee Theatre in Brooklyn, NY (photo courtesy Jeff Weiler)
  Neal Kissel with RKO Albee console shortly after its removal in 1968
Wurlitzer Organ Company
North Tonawanda, N.Y. – Opus 870 (1924)
Electro-pneumatic action
Style 260 Special
3 manuals, 16 ranks, 7 tuned percussions, 14 traps



The organ in the RKO Albee Theatre was built by the Wurlitzer Organ Company and had a factory date of August 5, 1924. Wurlitzer's Style 260 was enlarged to include a one-rank Echo Division with a 61-note Vox Humana stop. Two chambers at the front of the theater housed the main organ, while the Echo chamber was probably in the rear ceiling. A 10 H.P. blower supplied 15" of wind to the entire organ. Albee organist Arlo Hults recalled that the organ was not adequate in the theatre until it was amplified with mics hung in front of the grills. In 1968, the organ was donated to the City of San Gabriel, Calif., where it was installed in the Civic Auditorium (now known as the Mission Playhouse). The organ was subsequently rebuilt and enhanced over the years, and is extant.
           
Pedal – 32 notes
32
  Diaphone     Bass Drum
16
  Ophicleide     Kettle Drum
16
  Diaphone
  Snare Drum
16
  Tibia Clausa
  Crash Cymbal
16
  Bourdon
  Cymbal
8
  Tuba Horn
  Great to Pedal
8
  Octave
  Solo to Pedal
8
  Tibia Clausa
   
8
  Clarinet
  Pedal 2nd Touch
8
  Saxophone
32
  Diaphone
8
  String
  Pedal Pizzicato Touch
8
  Cello
16
  Ophicleide
8
  Flute
   
4
  Flute
  1st Touch & 2nd Touch Traps Switch
16
  Piano
  3 Adj. Combination Toe Pistons

   

   
Accompaniment (Manual I) –- 61 notes
16
  Contra Viol [TC]
  Mandolin
16
  Bourdon
  Marimba [re-it]
16
  Vox Humana [TC]     Harp
8
  Tuba Horn
  Chrysoglott
8
  Diaphonic Diapason
  Snare Drum
8
  Tibia Clausa
  Tambourine
8
  Clarinet
  Castanets
8
  Saxophone     Chinese Block
8
  String
  Tom Tom
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
  Sand Block
8
  Viol Celeste
  Octave
8
  Oboe Horn
  Solo to Accomp.
8
  Quintadena
   
8
  Flute
  Accompaniment 2nd Touch
8
  Vox Humana (Main)
8
  Tuba Horn
4
  Viol
8
  Tibia Clausa
4
  Octave Celeste     Cathedral Chimes
4
  Flute
  Sleigh Bells
2 2/3
  Twelfth
  Xylophone
2
  Piccolo
  Triangle
16
  Piano
  Solo to Accomp. – 2nd Touch
8
  Piano     Solo to Accomp. – Pizzicato
4
  Piano      
        10 Double Touch Adj. Comb. Pistons
        Automatic Suitable Bass
         
Great (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Ophicleide
16
  Piano
16
  Diaphone
8
  Piano
16
  Tibia Clausa
4
  Piano
16
  Clarinet [TC]
  Marimba
16
  Saxophone [TC]
  Harp
16
  Contra Viol [TC]
  Orchestral Bells
16
  Bourdon
  Sleigh Bells
8
  Trumpet
  Xylophone
8
  Tuba Horn
  Glockenspiel
8
  Diaphonic Diapason
  Chrysoglott
8
  Tibia Clausa     Cathedral Chimes
8
  Orchestral Oboe     Sub Octave
8
  Kinura
  Octave
8
  Clarinet
  Solo to Great
8
  Saxophone
   
8
  String
  Great 2nd Touch
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
16
  Ophicleide
8
  Viol Celeste
8
  Tibia Clausa
8
  Flute
  Solo to Great – 2nd Touch
8
  Vox Humana (Main)
  Solo to Great – Pizzicato Touch
4
  Clarion      
4
  Piccolo
  Echo
4
  Viol
16
  Vox Humana [TC] (Echo)
4
  Viol Celeste
8
  Vox Humana (Echo)
4
  Flute
4
  Vox Humana (Echo)
2 2/3
  Flute      
2
  Fifteenth     10 Double Touch Adj. Comb. Pistons
2
  Piccolo     Automatic Suitable Bass
1 3/5
  Flute      
           
Solo (Manual III) – 61 notes
16
  Ophicleide
8
  Quintadena
8
  Trumpet
4
  Clarion
8
  Tuba Horn
4
  Piccolo
8
  Diaphonic Diapason
  Xylophone
8
  Tibia Clausa
  Glockenspiel
8
  Orchestral Oboe
  Orchestral Bells
8
  Kinura
  Cathedral Chimes
8
  Clarinet
   
8
  Saxophone     10 Double Touch Adj. Comb. Pistons
8
  String
  Automatic Suitable Bass
8
  Oboe Horn
   
           
Tremulants (6)
    Main     Vox Humana
    Solo     Tuba
    Tibia     Echo Vox

   

   
General
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Echo
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Main
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Solo
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Master
    Crescendo Pedal
    Thunder Pedal (Diaphone) – Piano Pedal
    Thunder Pedal (Reed) – Piano Pedal
    One Double Touch Sforzando Pedal – Piano Pedal
     • 1st Touch: Full stops (wind)
     • 2nd Touch: Full stops and Percussion
    One Double Touch Sforzando Pedal – Piano Pedal
     • 1st Touch: Snare Drum
     • 2nd Touch: Bass Drum and Cymbal
           
Effects (operated by toe pistons)
    Auto Horn     FIre Gong
    Steamboat Whistle     Horse Hoofs
    Two Birds (one in each expression box)    
           

STOP & CHAMBER ANALYSIS
     
Main Chamber
16
  Tuba Horn
85 pipes
32
  Diaphonic Diapason
97 pipes
8
  Clarinet
61 pipes
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
85 pipes
8
  Viol Celeste
73 pipes
8
  Concert Flute
97 pipes
8
  Vox Humana
61 pipes
 
 
 
Echo Chamber
8
  Vox Humana
61 pipes
 
 
Solo Chamber
8
  Trumpet
61 pipes
16
  Tibia Clausa
85 pipes
8
  Orchestral Oboe
61 pipes
8
  Kinura
61 pipes
8
  Saxophone
61 pipes
8
  String
61 pipes
8
  Oboe Horn
61 pipes
8
  Quintadena
61 pipes
  Marimba
49 notes
  Cathedral Chimes
25 notes
  Xylophone
37 notes
  Glockenspiel
37 notes
  Sleigh Bells
25 notes
  All non-tonal traps & effects

             
Sources:
     Cinema Treasures web site: http://cinematreasures.org
     Junchen, David L., comp. and ed. by Jeff Weiler. The WurliTzer Pipe Organ – An Illustrated History. Chicago: The American Theatre Organ Society, 2005.
     Kaufmann, Preston J. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 3. Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1995.
     Linton, Donn. Electronic correspondence (Nov. 5, 2009) about Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 870 (1924) as moved to San Gabriel (Calif.) Mission Playhouse.
     "On this day in history," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb. 25, 2009.

Photos:
     AJWB Collection. Postcard (undated) of exterior; interior; Grand Foyer.
     Junchen, David L., comp. and ed. by Jeff Weiler. The WurliTzer Pipe Organ – An Illustrated History. Console of Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 870 (1924) shortly after its removal from the RKO Albee Theatre.