KiMo Theater - HauntedHouses.com
Place - KiMo Theater
423 Central Avenue N.W.
New Mexico 87102
Web-Site * (505) 768-3522
"KiMo,” is a combination of two
words literally meaning “mountain lion” but more liberally interpreted
as “king of its kind."
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 loved 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."
The Original 1927 Stage, destroyed in a 1963
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.
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!
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.
The National Directory of Haunted
Places, Dennis William Hauck, Penguin Books, 1996
Coast To Coast Ghosts, Leslie Rule,
Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2001