Thursday, August 1, 2013

Remembering the Rialto

In the post card image Gossips published last week of the buildings destroyed in the 1965 Good Friday fire, the building at 332 Warren Street was occupied by the Rialto Theatre. The building started out as a private residence. In 1867, it was the home of Henry Miller, and prior to that it was know as the "Little property." Curious to know when 332 Warren Street became the Rialto Theatre and how long it remained so, Gossips consulted John Craig, foremost authority on theaters on Hudson.    

Craig supplied the information that the ground floor of the building was converted into a theater in 1909. Called at that time the Warren Theatre, it was the second venue for movies and vaudeville in Hudsonthe first being the auditorium in City Hall, now the Hudson Opera House.  

The Warren Theatre closed in 1917, and in February 1919, the Hudson Improvement Company bought the building. Seven years earlier, in 1912, the Hudson Improvement Company had built the 1,500-seat Playhouse Theatre at 347 Warren Street. After extensive improvements, designed by architect Michael J. O'Connor, the theater at 332 Warren Street reopened as the Rialto in July 1919.

In 1926, the Hudson Improvement Company leased the Rialto and the Playhouse to theater operators from New York City: Henry Frieder and his brothers-in-law, Henry and William Grossman, who called themselves the Henwilhen Company. The Rialto closed in 1934, and in 1938, the Playhouse was destroyed by fire.

At the time of the Good Friday fire in 1965, 332 Warren Street, the building that had been the Rialto, was owned by the local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who used us as their clubhouse. They purchased the building in 1941 after the Hudson Improvement Company had dissolved and liquidated its holdings.

This photograph of 332 Warren Street engulfed in flames together with the text of this article from the Register-Star about the suspected cause of the fire were provided by Craig.

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