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, 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, at a 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.