Victory Theatre

54 Suffolk Street,
Holyoke, MA 1040

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Circa 1973 photo courtesy of Marc Wolfsfeld via

The enormous Victory Theatre opened in 1920 and was one of eight theaters that thrived during the days of vaudeville and silent motion pictures. The Victory Theatre, like many other combination houses, switched to an all-movies format in 1931. It suffered damage by a fire in 1942, but re-opened after renovations and it remained a vibrant movie house until it closed in 1979.

In 1983, Helen Casey, organized the Save The Victory Theatre Inc., a non-profit organization, which was created to help reopen the theater. Despite some great successes at fundraising along the way, little has been done to help rescue the old movie house reopen.

Like Holyoke itself, the Victory Theatre is still struggling to stay alive. The old theater’s blade sign was removed in 1986 and the marquee was torn down in 1991. Although it has allowed passersby to better see its scultped facade, it is a sad reminder that the Victory Theatre has yet to emerge from its doldrums.

In September 2008, ownership of the Victory Theatre was handed over by the city to the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, who plan to renovate it as a performing arts center and reopen by the end of 2012. As of April 2016 the MIFA has already raised $22,5000,000 out of the $30,000,000 required for its renovation.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 63 comments)

spectrum on April 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm

The photo tours posted by Matt Labros in january show the paintaings to the left and right of the proscenium to be gone — I hope they were simply removed for restoration (I expect that to be the case)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm

The August 27, 1919, issue of The American Architect published an early announcement about the plans for the Victory Theatre, though it placed the site at Suffolk and Chestnut Streets rather than Suffolk and Walnut:

“HOLYOKE, MASS.—An up-to-date theater, seating 2420 people, which can stage vaudeville, moving pictures, a stock company or legitimate plays, is to be erected by the Victory Theater Co., of which Nathan Goldstein of Springfield, Mass., is president. This company has purchased the lot at the corner of Suffolk and Chestnut Sts. and will erect a $350,000 playhouse from the plans of Mowll & Rand, Unity Bldg., Boston. Mass. The building will also include a number of stores.”
Later notices in other publications reduced the cost of the project to $250,000, but Mowll & Rand were still listed as the architects.

The current restoration of the Victory Theatre is designed by the Providence, Rhode Island, firm DBVW Architects (Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels.) Their web site currently features a rendering of how the completed project will look, plus four current photos of the theater.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 23, 2012 at 9:43 am

Check out my post on the Victory Theatre at After the Final Curtain

Patsy on April 23, 2012 at 11:42 am

Nice to be updated on the Victory Theatre!

gd14lawn on May 24, 2014 at 9:09 am

This project seems unfortunately to be stalled. In an article on the New England Public Radio website dated April 12,2013,the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA)artistic director Donald Sanders says he thinks MIFA could secure funding, complete renovations, and open the theatre in three years.

That pushes the reopening to 2016.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

Several months ago I heard that this project was starting to unravel, unfortunately; but I don’t recall what the source of that news was. The people in charge are stalwart types and I hope that they can get back on track.

allison2014 on June 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm

i walk by here every day on my way back from the gym for the past 2 months here and there i have seen workers going in and there is a dumpster outside. the smell of asbestos when you walk by is unreal even in the winter but i really do hope they are doing good things inside. im afraid its to far gone

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on May 18, 2015 at 11:44 am

I’ll be co-hosting a photo workshop at the Victory Theatre in Holyoke, MA on June 27. The last two workshops we held at the theater sold out pretty quickly so if you’re interested get your tickets soon. A portion of the proceeds raised will be donated to the theater to help the restoration effort. We’ve raised over $1,600 so far this year!

For more information and to purchase tickets: The Victory Theatre: An After the Final Curtain Photography Workshop

spectrum on April 21, 2016 at 7:58 pm

According to the February 2016 article, they have now raised 22,500,000 out of the $30,000,000 needed for restoration only leaving about 7.5 million left to raise.

spectrum on January 19, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Latest update on the renovation effort:

They now have commitments for approximately $27,000,000 towards the new total cost estimate of $43,000,000. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the roof was repaired and asbestos removed.

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