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(Back to New Mexico Haunted Index)

KiMo Theater - HauntedHouses.com

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Haunted Place - KiMo Theater

ADDRESS:

423 Central Avenue N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
Web-Site * (505) 768-3522

DESCRIPTION:

"KiMo,” is a combination of two words literally meaning “mountain lion” but more liberally interpreted as “king of its kind."

HISTORY

Built in 1927, This grand palace of a theater certainly is a masterpiece of Pueblo Deco fused with Art Deco. The creation of this beautiful, Southwestern style theater was financed by a hardworking, wealthy entrepreneur, Oreste Bachechi, who wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of building a grand theater, which would rival other larger than life movie palaces, that were springing up around the United States.

Mr. Bachechi wisely hired Carl Boller, who began research at once. Mr. Boller traveled around New Mexico, observing and visiting the Indian pueblos of Acoma and Isleta, and the Navajo Nation, becoming inspired to do a watercolor of his visionary movie theater design, which Mr. Bachechi love at first sight. The gifted Mr. Boller had captured and "fused the spirit of the Native American cultures of the Southwest with the exuberance of Art Deco."

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The Original 1927 Stage, destroyed in a 1963 fire.

The interior of the KiMo Theater is stunning. One will find "plaster ceiling beams textured to look like logs and painted with dance and hunt scenes, air vents disguised as Navajo rugs, chandeliers shaped like war drums and Native American funeral canoes, wrought iron birds descending the stairs and rows of garlanded buffalo skulls with eerie, glowing amber eyes."

The designs of Indian symbols were not chosen on a whim, but all reflected the history and culture of the native people and all meant something. The bright colors used also reflected Indian vocabulary. The crowning touch was of course the seven murals painted in oil by Carl Von Hassler, on the ceiling of the theater. Working from a platform hung from the ceiling, very much like Leonardo Da Vinci, Von Hassler spent months on his creative murals.

An elaborate Wurlitzer organ provided the music to complement the many silent films which were shown here.

A year after the KiMo Theater opened, Mr. Bachechi died suddenly, leaving the KiMo theater to his sons, who expanded the scope of the theater by offering vaudeville and out-of-town road shows as well as continuing to show films.

Silent films gave way to talkies and to theater performances by such artists as Vivian Vance, Sally Rand, Gloria Swanson, Tom Mix and Ginger Rogers.

During the 1950s and '60s some accidents occurred. In 1951 an explosion of the boiler in the basement demolished part of the original lobby and killed a little boy. In 1963, a fire destroyed the original stage.

Like many old grand theaters, it slipped into disrepair during the '60s and '70s to the point of being scheduled for the wrecking ball. It got a reprieve in 1977, when the citizens of Albuquerque got together and purchased the old theater with a $324,000 bond, which started the very long process of renovation and restoration. The last restoration project was completed in 2002, when the third floor was renovated.

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MANIFESTATIONS:

Like many old theaters, the KiMo theater seems to have a few unseen residents who enjoy the productions, one of whom will cause some mischief if conditions are not met to his satisfaction.

1) An apparition of a lady in a bonnet can be seen walking down the halls of the theater, going about her business. Not much is known about her.

2) Unfortunately, a little 6 year old boy, Bobby, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed in the 1951 boiler explosion that destroyed part of the theater lobby. In the basement, right underneath the concession stand there was an eight gallon electrical water heater, to provide hot water for the theater cleanup after the shows. The little boy was sitting in the balcony with some friends when something on the screen scared him, causing him to run down the lobby staircase which leads up to the balcony, arriving right into the lobby just when things were exploding. The apparition of the little boy has been seen playing on the lobby staircase, wearing a striped shirt and blue jeans.

a) In 1988, someone unseen helped itself to some doughnuts which were left untouched by the living on a table in the stage area. Bite marks made by a little mouth could be seen on some of the doughnuts. To pamper their little ghost, crew members started to hang doughnuts on the water pipe that runs along the back wall of the theater behind the stage.

b) A crew for a Christmas production of A Christmas Carol took down the stale doughnuts, which didn't please the little ghost one bit. The technical rehearsal before the first performance was a disaster, as everything went wrong! When new treats were hung on the wall the following day, everything went smoothly for the production.

c) This scenario has happened many times since then. As long as treats are hung on the water pipe, everything works fine, goes smoothly as this child ghost is happy. If his treats are taken down and not replaced, disaster happens with the technical effects. Calm is restored immediately after hanging new treats on the pipe!

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STILL HAUNTED?

Yes indeed!

Bobby still haunts the theater and is well-behaved as long as his treats are hanging on the water pipe. I hope that someday a rescue seance can be performed to help him go to the other side.

The unknown woman apparition still walks the halls of the theater, on some unknown mission or task, just going about her business.

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SOURCES INCLUDE:

KiMo Theater Web-Site
The National Directory of Haunted Places, Dennis William Hauck, Penguin Books, 1996
Coast To Coast Ghosts, Leslie Rule, Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2001