Star Theatre

134 Thames Street,
Newport, RI 02840

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The Star Theatre was built in 1908, and was the very first movie theatre in Newport, that is, built for the purpose of showing films. Although the new novelty had made appearances elsewhere in the city-by-the-sea, this theatre, like the Bijou Theatre and the Empire Theatre, were true “cinemas” from the start.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

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Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 25, 2005 at 4:57 am

A Mrs. M. J. Wiswell was listed in directories as proprietor of this house.

Newport’s Three Moving Picture Houses.
That was the heading of an October 1908 article clipped from an unidentified newspaper. The Star, Bijou, and Empire were those three undoubtedly smallish movie houses. Tiny photos of the three theatres appeared at the head of the article which was saved in a Newport resident’s personal scrapbook, now at the Newport Historical Society. The article does not go on to describe the theatres pictured, but instead talks about the motion picture medium itself and how it works. Movies were still a novelty then, but one that was capturing people’s attention here as everywhere. It was enough to cause three theatres to pop up in a short span of time and dedicated to presenting them in the city-by-the-sea. The Lafayette/Strand and the Opera House were not movie theatres, and the Colonial, a movie and vaudeville house, would not open until 1911. The Paramount, Newport’s grandest and most beautiful movie theatre, would not open until 1929. A perusal of the Newport Daily News of the period did not show any ads for these theatres' programs. Business may have been drummed up through printed flyers or may have relied heavily on walk-by interest.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 22, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Here is a PHOTO of Thames Street, circa 1908, with the sign for the Star Theatre on the right.

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