|South elevation and marquee, 2009|
432 State Street
|Architect||Thomas W. Lamb|
|Owned by||Arts Center and Theatre of Schenectady|
Proctor's Theatre is a former vaudeville house located in Schenectady, New York, United States. Many famous artists have performed there, notably Mariah Carey (whose 1993 top-rated Thanksgiving special was taped there), Hal Holbrook, Ted Wiles, and George Burns, as well as many others. It has one of the largest movie screens in the Northeast.
The theatre was opened on December 27, 1926. It was designed by architect Thomas Lamb. Four years later it hosted the first public demonstration of television. In 1979 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, shortly before being renovated after a long period of decline and neglect. A more recent renovation has added two other stages.
It is a three-story building with attic. The south (front) facade is faced in stucco, with engaged Doric pilasters. Ornamentation includes garlands and paterae on the friezes. A large marquee covers the sidewalk in front.
Inside, the arcade that connects the entrance to the theatre features space for (originally) 14 boutiques, with five copper-framed glass windows. A marble staircase leads to the upstairs offices, and the box office and showcase are paneled in Walnut.
The foyer is carpeted in red, with men's and women's smoking rooms on either side. Two more marble staircases lead to the balcony level. A pastoral mural in sepia decorates the wall. The staircases lead to a balcony promenade with an authentic Louis XV style sofa. Decoration includes Corinthian columns, iron railings and extensive gold leaf detailing.
Corinthian columns also flank the proscenium arch over the stage. Gold leaf detail is all over the domed ceiling and entrance arches, in contrast to the black and silver damask wall coverings. The side loges are trimmed with iron grilles in the arches and heavy velvet drapes. Light is provided by a central black and gold chandelier with 192 lamps, flanked by six smaller fixtures.
The arrival of General Electric led to rapid growth in Schenectady through the late 19th and early 20th century. The city's streetcar network made its downtown more accessible to the city. Vaudeville impressario Frederick Freeman Proctor chose to build his first theater in 1912. In the last years of his life he decided to replace it. It cost $1.5 million ($18.1 million in contemporary dollars) to build and opened on December 27, 1926, with a showing of the silent film Stranded in Paris. The audience was so impressed by the lavish facilities no one complained about the malfunctioning Wurlitzer organ.
Sound equipment was installed at the theater for the new sound films two years later. Shortly before his 1929 death Proctor sold his theater chain to RKO Pictures. The next year it was the site of the first public demonstration of television, when an orchestra performed under the direction of the image of a conductor in General Electric Research Laboratory a mile (1.6 km) away.
The theatre had fallen into disrepair throughout the 1960s and '70s while population shifted and moved out of Schenectady. The theatre was going to be torn down to be turned into a parking lot until a group of activists joined together and created the Arts Districts of Schenectady.
Proctors recently finished a $24.5 million expansion in the fall 2007. Several local firms were involved, including Stracher Roth Gilmore (architectural), Ryan-Biggs Associates (structural), M/E Engineering (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) and Adirondack Scenic (theatrical & rigging designers). Three separate venues will be available for the public:
In September 2007, upon completion of the expansion project, Proctor's Theatre changed its name to "Proctors" to reflect that fact that it now contains three auditoriums.
On July 18, 2009, the theater won the Outstanding Historic Theatre Award, presented by the League of Historic American Theatres at their annual meeting in Cleveland. Proctors will host the group's convention in 2011.
Additional construction of the former Carl Company