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David Fisk (Lens of
Haunted KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque
Kimo Theatre Vintage
The KiMo Theatre, a Pueblo Deco picture palace, was
opened on September 19, 1927 by a man named Oreste Bachechi. Bachechi, a motivated entrepreneur from humble origins,
who came to the
United States in 1885. Winding up in
he soon set up a business in a tent near the railroad tracks. As
the city expanded, so did Bachchie’s business, as he became a liquor
dealer and proprietor of a grocery store. His wife Maria ran a
dry good store in the Elms Hotel. As his fortunes expanded, he
began the Bachechi Amusement Association in 1919, which operated the
Pastime Theatre with Joe Barnett.
In 1925, Oreste decided to achieve
his true dream – building his own theatre. Envisioning a unique
southwestern style he soon hired an architect to design it, winding up
with the Pueblo Deco style. This architectural style was a
flamboyant, short-lived fashion that fused the spirit of the Native
American cultures with Art deco.
At a cost of $150,000, the theatre opened on September
19, 1927, during the time when silent movies were the all-consuming rage of
Americans. A contest was run for the naming of the new theatre
and Pablo Abeita won the magnificent prize of $50 for the unique name
of "KiMo.” KiMo is a combination of two Indian words literally
meaning "mountain lion" but more liberally interpreted as "king of its
Just one year
after realizing his dream, Oreste Bachechi died, leaving the
management of the KiMo to his sons, who soon combined Vaudeville and
out-of-town road shows with movies. Over the years, the KiMo
featured such stars as Vivian Vance, Gloria Swanson, Tom Mix, Ginger
Rogers, and many others.
stands through time without something bad happening, and the KiMo is no
exception. In 1951, a six year old boy named Bobby Darnall was killed
when the boiler in the basement exploded, demolishing part of the
original lobby. The boiler was located right beneath the
concession stand in the lobby. Bobby, who had been sitting in
the theatre balcony with some of his friends, suddenly was frightened
by something on the screen and ran down the staircase to the lobby. Just as he arrived, the boiler exploded taking Bobby and part of the
lobby in its wake of destruction. It is the spirit of little
Bobby who is said to continue to haunt the KiMo Theatre today.
occurred at the KiMo, when in 1963; a fire destroyed the original 1927
stage and damaged much of the rest of the building.
like many American cities, experienced a mass exodus from downtown, and
the beautiful KiMo Theatre began to fall into disrepair.
the wrecking ball, the KiMo was saved in 1977 when the citizens of
voted to purchase the beautiful building. Since then, several stages
of restoration have returned the theatre to its former glory. The KiMo Theater now serves as a performing arts center with seating for 700
and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
But what of its
ghosts? Not only is the old theatre home to poor Bobby Darnell, who
died in the 1951 explosion, but also to a mysterious lady who is seen
walking along the hallways.
unknown woman, wearing a bonnet, has often been reported walking down the
halls of the theatre, appearing to be just going about her business. Nothing more is known of this ghostly presence, but seemingly she doesn’t
disturb anyone, she just likes strolling about the old theatre.
1927 Original Stage in KiMo Theatre, courtesy
KiMo Theatre Website
However, Bobby is a much more prevalent force
and has been known to play all kinds of impish tricks upon staff and
guests of the old theatre. Often seen playing on the lobby
staircase, Bobby wears a striped shirt and blue jeans.
According to legend, the impish spirit
causes the performers problems by tripping them and creating a ruckus
during performances. To appease the spirit, the cast hangs doughnuts
on the water pipe that runs along the back wall of the theatre behind the
stage. Often, the treats are gone the next morning. Of those that are
left, bite marks made by a little mouth, can sometimes be seen.
year, a crew preparing for a Christmas production took down the stale
doughnuts. Big mistake. No sooner were the doughnuts removed,
when the technical rehearsal started to become a disaster, with everything
going wrong, from lighting, to sound problems, and more. When the
treats were replaced, things began to run smoothly again.
of America, updated January, 2015.
Theatre Today, June, 2006, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for photographic prints
423 Central Ave. N.W.
New Mexico 87102
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