Riggs Building (Keith-Albee Building)

The Keith-Albee Theater became a notable vaudeville and motion picture house in the early twentieth century.

Erected in 1912, the Riggs or Albee Building and the adjoining theater were built on a site formerly occupied by the Riggs House, a large hotel demolished in 1911. Originally, the building was known as the Riggs Building, and the adjoining theater as Chase’s; however, after the building was sold to the Claremont Theater Corporation, the name of the office building was changed from Riggs to Albee. 

The theater came to be known as Keith’s, a notable vaudeville and motion picture house, prominent in the entertainment industry in DC. The Keith-Albee Theater was a part of the B.F. Keith vaudeville circuit, which became a part of the Keith-Albee-Orpheum chain, and then RKO Pictures. William Howard Taft attended the opening in 1912, and Woodrow Wilson regularly attended. Entertainers at the theater included: Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallée, Laurel and Hardy, and ZaSu Pitts.

Designed by Jules Henri de Sibour (1872-1938), the distinctive Beaux Arts facade of Chase’s Theater and the Riggs Building forms a strong architectural unit with the adjacent National Metropolitan Bank Building and complements the nearby Treasury Department.

The movie theater closed in 1978. The rear portion of the building and the theater were demolished in 1979, caught up in the development scandal around Rhodes’ Tavern. It is now part of the Metropolitan Square office building.

DC Inventory: November 2, 1977
National Register: September 7, 1978
Within Fifteenth Street Financial Historic District



615‑27 15th Street NW