KiMo Theater

Albuquerque, New Mexico | C.1927

Photo Credit: Matthew Dickey

The KiMo Theater in New Mexico is a historic theater envisioned by an Italian-American entrepreneur in the Art Deco-Pueblo Revial Style to honor Native Americans. Built in 1927, the landmark is distinguished for its adobe style, indigenous motifs, and elements commonly found in Art Deco architecture.

In 1885, Oreste Bachechi and his wife Maria arrived in New Mexico. Oreste became a liquor dealer and grocery store owner. Not to be eclipsed by her husband’s success, Maria ran a dry goods store out of the city’s Elms Hotel. An established businessman by 1925, Oreste sought to fulfill his dream of building his own theater.

At that time, movie theaters in the U.S. were being designed to resemble structures like Moorish mosques and Chinese pavilions. Bachechi imagined a Southwestern-style theater, and Maria desired to give tribute to the Native Americans who had embraced her family as their own. They commissioned architect Carl Boller to design the theater.

Boller traveled through New Mexico to visit pueblos of Acoma, Isleta, and the Navajo Nation. Inspired by his findings, he designed the theater to include plaster ceiling beams, vents disguised as Navajo rugs and war drum chandeliers. Yellow representing life-giving sun, red the setting sun, and black the clouds from the North were incorporated into the color scheme.

In 1927, the Albuquerque Journal held a competition for the theater’s name, and selected “Kimo” meaning “mountain lion”. In the years since, the Theater has been renovated, restored, and added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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