The Madison Theater opened its doors in November of 1929 and was designed by Thomas W. Lamb, a Scottish-born American architect who is thought of as one of the foremost movie theater architects of the 20th century.
The Madison was originally owned by Warner Bros., and served as a single-screen neighborhood theater.
The ceremonies of the opening night of the Madison Theater took place on May 30, 1929, and featured an on-screen performance by the Warner Bros. Vitaphone Trumpeteers, a performance of the Star Spangled Banner by Frances Alda, and a Mickey Mouse cartoon “The Opry House.” An introductory address was given by former Albany Mayor, John Boyd Thatcher. The cover charge for the festivities was 35 cents per guest. At the end of the ceremonies, the Madison showed its first film, The Desert Song.
In 1994, the theater was acquired, redesigned, and renamed the Norma Jean Madison. At that time, it was turned into a multiplex of five screens, with two more added in 1998.
In 2013, Tierra Farm purchased the Madison Theater from Riverfront Cinemas of Albany, and pushed forward with their $500,000 restoration project to reimagine the theater complex, bringing modern standards to the Depression-era theater.
Since its original opening in 1929, The Madison Theater has gone through a great deal of change in appearance internally and externally. Before Tierra Farm’s restoration of the theater, the last major renovation took place in 1994.
Following the sale of the Madison to Tierra Farm, the theater closed for renovations and reopened with new seating, a restored marquee, a redesigned and repainted interior, and an upgraded concession and café area.
The Madison used only a single screen until 1994, when a series of renovations expanded the theater to five screens and eventually seven screens. In October 2014, the Madison turned two of its smaller theaters into a larger, 168 seat performance venue for concerts. This new performance space is well suited for classical and jazz performances, comedy routines, and even rock shows.
As of December 2014, the theater now features three movie theaters, in addition to the live performance venue.