When it opened on June 9, 1927, reporters hailed the Kingston Community Theater as the most beautiful theater between New York City and Buffalo. Thomas Edison first introduced "Motion Pictures" to Americans in 1896. By the 1910s, opportunistic playhouse managers grasped their money-making potential--Americans would pay for the chance to escape from their ordinary lives into the movies' glamorous worlds of drama, beauty, and wealth--and theaters built specifically to show movies soon appeared throughout the United States. Built during the "Roaring 20s," Kingston's Community Theater is smaller than the giant "Movie Palaces" of large American cities, but architect Douglas Hall made every effort to decorate the theater very sumptuously, and the Community Theater, designed with an elaborate Neo-Classical motif, projects an aura of extravagance and fantasy that adds to the illusions that appeared on the theater's stage and movie screen. The interior of the theater is richly decorated, with fluted Corinthian columns and an entablature above the stage featuring sculpted lions' heads, steer skulls, and elaborate leaf, egg and dart molding. Although other theaters and opera houses operated in Kingston, only the Community Theater survived thirty tumultuous years that witnessed the Great Depression of the 1930s, the hardships of World War II, and the advent of television, all of which affected movie attendance. By the 1950s, the Community Theater remained the only theater in Kingston, a role it did not relinquish until shopping mall theaters were constructed in the 1960s on Kingston's suburban edges. One of only three pre-World War II theaters located in the Hudson Valley, the Ulster Performing Arts Center purchased the building in 1979, brought live large scale performances back to the theater, and embarked upon a restoration of the grand old theater that continues to the present.
Community Theater (Broadway Theater)
Photograph by John E. Reinhardt
The Community Theater, now known as UPAC, is located at 601 Broadway. Call 845-339-6088 at the box office for entertainment information.