Colonial Theatre

107-109 West Street,
Rutland, VT 05736

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 28, 2013 at 11:10 am

The March 27, 1909, issue of The Moving Picture World ran this item about the Colonial Theatre:

“Rutland, Vt. — The Colonial Theater, a handsome and substantial building on West street, opened on March 10, less than three months after the ground was broken for the foundation. Messrs. Lincoln and Fuller are the owners, and they started in with a fine programme — one of the Biograph ‘Jones’s’ series and some Pathe subjects. The show will consist of pictures and songs exclusively, and the attendance so far has been most encouraging.”
Apparently there were two locations of the Colonial Theatre, but neither of them was at 131 West Street, nor in the building described in our current introduction. The Colonial in the building next door to the Grand Theatre was operating around 1915, so must have been the second location.

An article about the Paramount Theatre published in the Rutland Historical Society Quarterly in 2004 (PDF here) has this line: “Other motion picture theatres in the area, who also reached their demise, were the Shrine which became the Strand at 73-77 Wales Street, the Colonial at 107-109 West Street and the Grand at 112 West Street.”

Another source mentions a cigar store opened in 1913 in the Colonial Theatre Building at the corner of West and Cottage Streets. That means that the original Colonial Theatre was on the site of what is now the parking lot of the church across the street from the Grand Theatre.

Why there was a Colonial Theatre in the building next door to the Grand by 1915 I don’t know. The original theater might have been destroyed by a fire, or converted to some other use, or perhaps continued to operate after 1915 under a different name, but I’ve found nothing on the Internet to confirm any of these surmises. In any case, the Colonial Theatre opened at 107-109 West Street on March 10, 1909, and the building has been demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm

The Colonial Theatre was in operation prior to 1916, and was the subject of this article in the January 19 issue of the Rutland Herald that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Here’s a puzzle for someone to work on:

This web page at CinemaData has some very limited information about the Colonial Theatre in a description of an undated postcard. The Colonial Theatre was next door to a theater called the Grand (“The Grand on left, one-story, brick with arched doorway, advertising clearly visible. On right, three-story commercial block with vertical sign ‘Colonial’ with two one-sheets out front.”)

A 1911 postcard for sale on e-Bay (here, while it lasts) shows a building that is still standing now, though somewhat altered, on the south side of West Street between Merchant’s Row (aka Grove Street) and Church Street. The problem is that this building has an even-numbered address. One side of it is currently occupied by a Japanese restaurant called Tokyo House, at 106 West Street #2.

The three-story building next to the Grand, where the Colonial was in the vintage postcard described on the CinemaData page, doesn’t match the description of the building Dave Bonan saw, nor would it have the address 131 West Street. As of 1911 there was no evidence of a theater in it. Today, it is occupied by an outfit called Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center, 116 West Street.

Were there perhaps two different houses called the Colonial Theatre in Rutland? If so, then the one at 131 West Street is missing from the CinemaData list for Rutland, which can be seen on this web page (I had to scroll across on this one- I don’t know if it’s a browser issue or not.) It’s also possible that Dave Bonan misidentified the Clement Building (northeast corner of West Street and Merchant’s Row) as the site of a former theater. It doesn’t look like one to me.