By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO March 13, 2001 Last week, Monticello officials announced that the Rialto Theater on Broadway in Monticello has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Being so named makes the theater eligible for certain grants to preserve and restore its interior and exterior.
"This is a good first step," commented Village of Monticello Mayor Gary Sommers. "This will get people going and interested in rejuvenating Broadway. It is a terrific focal point to start with."
"This is reflective of the rich history of the building," Sullivan County Planning and Community Development Commissioner Alan Sorensen remarked. "It is worthy of this honor. I would like to see it restored and reopened for the benefit of all residents."
The Rialto was constructed in 1921 and was one of three theaters in Monticello at the time. It was considered the focus of social activity in the village and featured some of the top movies of the day.
On the second floor of the building was the Parisian Restaurant. The restaurant was a very popular night spot and served as a setting for many events. It also regularly featured a New York City jazz orchestra. Eleanor Roosevelt herself was a guest there in 1922 for the Jeffersonian Dinner (the annual Democratic Party Dinner).
Last year, the Rialto, along with several other Monticello businesses, were bought by New York City entrepreneur Misa Chang. There is a sign there advertising rental space, but Chang has not announced any new plans for the theater. The application for Landmark status was made before Chang purchased the property, and she could not be reached for comment.
The Rialto is a focal point of the recently released HyettPalma Study, a seven-year plan to revitalize downtown Monticello.