Uptown Theatre

260 Central Street,
Gardner, MA 01440

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Uptown Gardner

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The Gardner Theatre opened in 1897 and was an ‘upstairs’ theatre. It was rebuilt for George A. Giles in 1919, reopening on February 23, 1920 with 1,200 seats. In January 1930 it was renamed Uptown Theatre. It was remodeled in 1941 and is shown as operating with seating for 1,000 in the 1945 Film Daily Yearbook (along with the Orpheum Theatre, which sat 1,132 at that time).

It was closed in 1953.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 20, 2006 at 11:43 am

There is a MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Uptown Theatre in Gardner. It has an exterior photo taken in 1941. It apppears to be a large brick building with the theatre entrance at the right end. There is a rectangular marquee with a big vertical blade sign above. Attractions, in white letters on black background, are “Las Vegas Nights” and “New Adventures of Tarzan”. The Report states that the Uptown is on Centre St. It has been a MGM customer for over 15 years; It was built over 15 years ago. The condition is Good. Seating is 578 on the main floor and 470 in the balcony; total: 1,048 seats. The competing theatre is the Orpheum; the 1940 population of Gardner was 20,200.

Chiefofservice on April 4, 2007 at 4:52 pm

As previousely stated in my posts on the Uptown theatre in Boston, the owner was a man named George S. Giles. He also owned the Uptown in Gardner and its sister theatre, the Orpheum also in Gardner.The chain also had theatres in Laconia N.H,Norwood Ma.and a few more I can’t recall.
I was promoted from Chief Of Service at the Uptown in Boston, to Asst. Manager at the Uptown in Gardner. This was around 1950 or so. The manager of the Orpheum, a man by the name of Ray Beaugois (sp) actually was manager of both. Can’t recall too much about either theatre, I guess typical small town theatres. I didn’t stay in Gardner too long as the next year I joined the army.

Chiefofservice on April 5, 2007 at 12:25 pm

One more comment about the above post,the manager at that time of the Boston Uptown was Harold Hall, who took over from Jed Prouty, and the district manager of the George S. Giles circuit was Alden Peterson. Hall became district manager when Peterson retired.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 21, 2010 at 8:12 am

From Boxoffice magazine, March 14, 1953:
“Uptown, oldest theatre in Gardner, has closed after 56 years of operation. It opened with a policy of traveling roadshows and converted to films long ago. The Smith Management Co., owners, will continue operation of the Orpheum, with Joseph Bresnahan in charge.”

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm

As noted above, the Uptown opened in 1897. It didn’t make it into the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. The Guide lists 2 road-show theater for Gardner, the Music Hall with 1,100 seats, and the Town Hall auditorium with 1,075 seats. Both of these were “upstairs houses” with the auditorium & stage on the second floor. Was it called “Uptown” from the beginning, or did it originally have a different name? The 1897 population of Gardner was 9,000.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

The 1927 Film Daily Yearbook lists 2 movie theaters in Gardner, the Orpheum and one which they call the “Gardner Theatre”. It had 1500 seats. They don’t list the Uptown Th., but possibly it and the so-called Gardner Theatre are the same.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 25, 2018 at 9:41 pm

The original Gardner Theatre was an upstairs house that was rebuilt for George A. Giles in 1919-20, as noted in this paragraph from an item about Giles' proposed new theater in Framingham that appeared in the January 31, 1920, issue of The Film Daily:

“The same company has set February 23d as the opening date for the new Gardner Theatre at Gardner, Mass. This theatre, seating 1,200, is remodelled [sic] from the old store and up-stairs theatre into a modern down-stairs playhouse, being entirely new throughout with the exception of the four walls. The Giles Company have for some time operated the Orpheum there.”
Giles' newly-formed corporation had taken over the assets of the Trimount Theaters Inc., including the Gardner and Orpheum at Gardner and the Princess and Gorman at Framingham, in 1917. Giles had been the treasurer of Trimount, and continued to use the name Trimount Theaters for his theater operations for a number of years.

The renaming of the Gardner took place in early 1930, and was noted in the January 22 issue of The Film Daily that year: “Gardner, Mass. — The new Uptown, formerly known as the Gardner, has reopened with a new policy with the installation of sound equipment.”

The April 13 issue of Film Daily noted the transfer of the Uptown and Orpheum at Gardner to Publix:

“Publix Completes Deal for Two Gardner Houses

“Gardner, Mass. — Purchase of the new Uptown and Orpheum by Publix has been completed and new resident managers are expected to be appointed shortly. The houses were bought from the George A. Giles Co.”

The houses in Gardner were back in the Giles circuit’s hands by 1940. The May 21, 1941, issue of The Exhibitor said that the Giles circuit had just spent $94,000 remodeling the Uptown and had completely renovated the Orpheum the previous year.

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