Albuquerque, New Mexico
The KiMo Theater is located at 423 Central Ave. NW
in Albuquerque, NM. The theater operates Tuesday-Friday 8:30am
to 4:30pm, Saturday 11:00am to 5:00pm. It is open to the public
for self-guided tours from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Today, the theater
seats 650 people and operates as a lively performance venue.
Guided tours are available by appointment only and can be
arranged by calling 505-768-3522. To obtain information about
performances, call 505-768-3544 or visit the City of
Albuquerque’s website. The KiMo Theater has been recorded by the
National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.
Built in 1927 to show both
motion pictures and stage productions, the KiMo Theater has an important place among
the elaborate palatial dream-theaters of the 1920s. KiMo, in the
language of the nearby Isleta Pueblo, means “king of its kind,”
and the name is certainly well deserved. The KiMo was the first
theater constructed in the Pueblo Deco style, a fusion of
ancient American Indian and Art Deco design. This short-lived
style was highly unique during a time when Chinese and Egyptian
designs were the predominant styles used for film palaces.
Built for Italian immigrant Oreste Bachechi by the Boller
Brothers firm at a cost of $150,000, the theater is a steel
frame and brick building three-stories high, with retail shops
flanking the entrance on both sides. Its exterior is finished
with strongly textured light brown stucco embellished with
ornamental details of glazed terra cotta tile and
vividly-colored reliefs. The large marquee and vestibule
entrance reflect remodeling from the 1950s.
is designed to look like the inside of a ceremonial kiva, with
log-like ceiling beams painted with dance and hunting scenes.
The interior also includes air vents disguised as Navajo rugs,
chandeliers shaped like war drums and American Indian funeral
canoes, wrought iron birds that descend the staircases, and rows
of garlanded buffalo skulls with glowing amber eyes. Painted in
oil by Carl Von Hassler, seven murals depict the Seven Cities of
Cibola. Each image depicted throughout the theater was carefully
chosen for its historical significance, including rain clouds,
birds and swastikas. The swastika is an original Navajo symbol
for life, freedom, and happiness that was applied to the KiMo
long before Nazi Germany adopted the symbol.
In 1961, a
fire destroyed the stage and other areas of the theater. With
the combined forces of suburban growth and competition, the
theater fell into decline and closed in 1968. It was nearly
demolished in the 1970s, before the citizens of Albuquerque
voted to purchase and restore it. The theater was listed in the
National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and partly
rehabilitated in 1981. The restoration was completed in the
1990s as part of downtown Albuquerque’s revitalization
efforts--just in time for Route 66's 75th anniversary
celebration in 2001.