Central Theatre

41 West Broad Street,
Stonington, CT 06379

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The Central Theatre was opened prior to 1923. A long-demolished theatre in the center of Westerly/Pawcatuck. Additional information would be appreciated on this and other Westerly/Pawcatuck theatres like the Lyric Theatre and the United Theatre. Only the United Theatre remains today, though shuttered for many years, it reopened in 2015.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 3, 2005 at 9:29 am

A July 1, 1947 article in the Westerly Sun reported:

“Removal of a three-foot brass bar regulating an emergency exit in the balcony of the Central Theatre is being viewed by Stonington police and theatre officials as a serious matter…”

The article went on to say that the vandalism by unknown perpetrators was subsequently corrected. For me, the important fact here is the reference to Stonington police. This clearly shows that the Central was in Pawcatuck, in the town of Stonington, Connecticut, and not in Westerly, RI. Westerly and Pawcatuck are essentially one village, separated by a state border.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 25, 2005 at 2:22 pm

A child is lost after movies at the Central Theatre!

From: “A Family’s Enduring Love” by Thomas A. O'Connell:

The story begins sometime after Christmas, the end of May and early June to be precise. The year was 1931. On that warm Saturday afternoon, Michelina Terranova gave her son Albert, 6, permission to attend the movies at The Central Theatre on West Broad Street, Pawcatuck, with his three friends. Before he left the 64-½ Oak Street home his sister Nancy, 12, gave him two nickels. Nancy’s recent tonsillectomy had garnered her some get-well money. She wanted to share her good fortune with her little brother. Mrs. Terranova knew the ways of little fellows and so she wrapped the two coins in a clean handkerchief. She tucked the little parcel into his pocket for an extra measure of security.

So off they walked Albert and his pals James Strafach, Albert Servidio, and Charles Pendola down Oak Street, onto High Street, and into the downtown Westerly business district. A right turn over the Pawcatuck River Bridge brought the boys almost to the movie house’s entrance next to Higgin’s Pharmacy.

That day Albert saw the movie twice, Nancy recently attested. By 6 p.m. he was hungry. Spying his older sister Josephine 17, at the show, he let her know of his desire to be fed. She apparently asked his three pals to bring him home and give him his favorite food, a banana.

Albert and his comrades probably talked some more, forgetting Josephine’s request. Soon Albert wandered away on his own. The boys must have thought that he’d left the place with his sister. However, Albert had plans. The three foot six inch lad thought himself capable of finding the home under his own power. So he walked out of the front door, took a right, and headed for home.

Later that evening, the three friends arrived back home. Mrs. Terranova, noticing Albert was not with them, asked of the child’s whereabouts.

The whole story can be found on this page of the Westerly Historical Society.

petevardy
petevardy on June 30, 2007 at 9:13 pm

I remember this Theatre very well. My Dad’s Store adjoined it, “The Greek American” It was a fruit and vegitable Stand with a Soda Fountain and Candy Kitchen inside along with Tobacco, Cigars Cigaretts and Chewing Tobacco. I remember the names of the cigars and cigaretts. White Owl, Harvister Lucky Strike. Remember when they took the Green off the Lucky Strike, Thier Add read “Lucky Strike Green has gone to War” Higgind Pharmacy Was on the other side and had an entrance going into the Lobby.
I used to sneak into it from the 2nd story of my Dad’s Store until I got caught by Mr. Champlin the ticket taker. We used to call it “The Scratch House” It was infested with rodents. Being so close to the river, we had to view the Movies while the rats ran up and down the aisles. This was the lower class establishment. They had another Theatre on the Westerly Side of the River. It was the UNITED THEATRE This was for the upper class 50 cents for the matinnee and 1 dollar for evenings and week ends. I saw GONE WITH THE WIND there at a cost of 2 Dollars, quite a difference from 10 cents. Great memories. YOU CAN’T GO HOME

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 12, 2010 at 10:47 am

from Boxoffice Magazine, April 23, 1938:
Four Westerly and Mystic Houses Will Be Renovated
WESTERLY, R.I. – Jack Findlay, owner and operator of the Central, United and Lyric Theatres here and the Strand, Mystic, Conn., is renovating all four houses. Work on the Central, which will double its present seating capacity, is in progress. At the same time two new rectifiers and two lamps are being installed in the United and new carpet laid. The 400-seat Lyric, closed for many years, will soon begin complete renovation, while next in line the Strand will be entirely modernized. Findlay plans to operate the three Westerly houses full time first-run."

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

This theatre was part of the September 1923 6th Paramount Week. In this advertisement from the (Providence) Evening Tribune, September 1, 1923, we see a fascinating list of Rhode Island area theatres, many long-gone and long-forgoten, or even unheard of, as well as what they were showing during that week. This is listed as the Central, Westerly. CLICK HERE and move image to see all theatres.

pawcatuckhistorian
pawcatuckhistorian on August 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Hi everyone, I enjoyed reading your comments about the Central Theatre. I just purchased and framed a circa 1930 movie poster from the Central. My grandmother still remembers the theatre, as well as many others from Pawcatuck. My family actually demolished the Central Theatre in the late 1950’s. Higgins Pharmacy belonged to my grandfather and his two brothers, and they demolished the Central Theatre building so cars could access the rear of their store and park there. The Central, as well as the Lyric and Star Theatres were all within a couple of feet of each other. The Lyric was not located on Lester Ave. as the map says. It was located on the second floor of the Potter Building otherwise known as “Bridge Block”. The Star burned in 1915 I believe, or some time around that. It was located right before the bridge on the opposite side of West Broad St. West Broad is actually pretty long, not as short as you think. It extends up the hill until the fork at South Broad and Pequot Trail.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 5, 2015 at 7:30 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Central Theatre at 41 West Broad, which they list as Westerly RI. It’s Card # 559.There is an exterior photo taken May 1941. The condition is Fair. The theater is over 15 years old and is showing MGM product. 600 seats.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 5, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Yes, the Central was actually in Pawcatuck(Stonington, CT.) It and Westerly center straddle the RI/CT state line. Informally people referred to the Central as being in Westerly, RI, whereas it is technically in Pawcatuck

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 6, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Yes, I think that when the MGM agent back in 1941 crossed the river on his way to visit the Central Theatre he did not realize he was crossing the state line. There are no other theaters in CT among the 600 MGM report cards which the Theatre Historical Society has. The original intent must have been to cover the entire USA (and perhaps Canada, too) because they printed up 50,000 blank report forms! But they only covered MA, ME, NH, RI and VT.

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