Rialto Theater

246 Central Street,
Lowell, MA 01852

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The Rialto was always a second-run house, but a good one. It was built in the train shed of the original Boston and Maine Railroad terminal in downtown Lowell. Supposedly part of its roof could be retracted for hot summer evenings.

The Rialto was owned and operated by Norman Glassman who also operated the Crown Theater on Middlesex Street and who built the Lowell Drive-In Theater.

When it closed, its owner converted it to a bowling alley which thrived for many years. Under the auspices of the Lowell Urban National Park, the Rialto’s auditorium was torn down and the head house (which housed the lobby, ticket booth, and concession stand), was restored to its original appearance.

Contributed by Robert Provencher

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

Rtprovencher
Rtprovencher on March 15, 2008 at 2:39 pm

The National Park people are hoping for a combination of retail (1st floor) and office space (upstairs). What remains of the Rialto is the head house (entrance only). The theatre itself was located in what was the train shed (i. e. the place where passenger trains were parked to load and unload passengers), which has been torn down. The Rialto was always a second-run, second-class theatre.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on August 27, 2008 at 1:22 pm

The restoration work on the Rialto building has mostly finished; the long-demolished tower on the front-right corner has been replicated. I have heard that the building has now been sold to the Middlesex Community College, but I’m not sure of that. I’ve seen recent photos and the structure really looks great – a real “landmark”.

jimroy
jimroy on April 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

I’ve added one from 1941 couresty Ron Salters
http://www.pbase.com/jroy/image/123593223

hanksykes
hanksykes on July 20, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Thanks Ron Salters, for that great facade shot of the Rialto(where I spent my early childhood film years) under magnification it’s clear that a stepladder has been placed by the marquee to either relamp under canopy lights or to freshen the current film titles which they were showing. Also there seem to be two workers standing next to the ladder.Many happy days spent here in the early 1950’s!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm

The Rialto is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1,100 seats and open daily.

robbieremlap
robbieremlap on May 15, 2012 at 8:11 am

When I was a boy in Lowell many years ago, Strand, Rialto and Keith’s were visited often. My father had worked in many of these theaters and also in Lawrence and further as decorator of the lobbies before litho posters were sent around with the films. I projected/tape recorded for Wilson Gill of Washingon D.C. years ago (his father was first theater projectionist in Wash D.C., and he, himself, at one time had been senior sound projectionist for Warner Bros. in Hollywood). I did 16MM arc projection at most major hotels in the capitol, and later, with this experience, was theater projectionist in Chatham on the Cape in early 70s. Had all the equipment from the thirties: Strong Arc, Altec Lansing tube sound (still the most reliable), and RCA-Brenkert heads. Rob Palmer

hanksykes
hanksykes on May 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Always love to hear more news of the Rialto Th. in Lowell, does anyone have interior shot of same. I’ve looked for years ,but no luck. I’ll pray and leave the lights on!!!This was my first movie viewing at age 5.

slavecoma
slavecoma on January 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm

i have pictures of the front of the building but have never seen the back of the building that was torn down, does anyone have pics.

jimroy
jimroy on January 31, 2013 at 12:53 pm

only what’s visible in this photo http://www.pbase.com/jroy/image/123134944

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