Providence Performing Arts Center

220 Weybosset Street,
Providence, RI 02903

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Orlando on September 12, 2016 at 3:56 pm

On B&W photo listed for 1965, it’s actually 1971 when Walt Disney’s “moneymaker” “$1,000,000 Duck” opened in theatres. Tony Roberts, star of the movie said it was a box office smash after a Broadway performance.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 28, 2015 at 8:14 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the State Theatre on “Weybosette” Street. It’s Card # 549. There is an exterior photo taken in 1941. The theater is in “DeLuxe” condition. It exhibits MGM product. There were 1981 orchestra seats; 991 balcony seats, and 250 seats in the loges, total: 3,232 seats. The photo shows the name as “Loew’s State”, but the Report simply calls it the “State” theater.

Logan5 on March 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Seems that this movie theatre was simply called the “Loew’s Theatre” from 1950-1972. The Beatles' February 11, 1964 concert in Washington, DC was shown on closed circuit television here along with separate videotaped performances by the Beach Boys and Lesley Gore on March 14 & 15, 1964. In ‘71 the theatre changed ownership and in '72 it became a live music venue called the “Palace Concert Theatre”.

Patsy on November 17, 2013 at 2:56 am

Watch this amazing video between Joey and the real horses when War Horse came to Providence.

SCARSRayRay on June 7, 2012 at 1:42 am

This theater showed the original print of Lon Chaney’s London After Midnight. My uncle owned the original hand painted poster which was sold in the late 80s…

I also saw King Kong 1976 on opening day here with the same Uncle as above. It was so packed we had to sit in the last row under the balcony.

gd14lawn on January 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

I think the photos posted by lost memory on 10/28/08 are nicer than the ones on the theatre’s wabsite. Thanks very much!

TLSLOEWS on July 22, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Another Loews State.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Item about theatre organs in Boxoffice Magazine, December 22, 1956:

“The Sunday Journal devoted the entire front page of the amusement section to a feature story on the removal of the once-famous organs in the Strand, (Loew’s) State, and Majestic. Carrying a picture of Chester McLean, Strand house-manager, and pictures of the relics of the organs, the article stirred up many nostalgic memories for older moviegoers. A resident of nearby Hope Valley, Theo Smith, is buying up the instruments "to save them from the scrap pile.” He repairs the organs, donating them to churches. He is also assembling a complete unit for his home."

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

from Boxoffice Magazine, August 19, 1950:

Promotion Drive Started on Film in Production
PROVIDENCE – A long range buildup to the eventual presentation of “Quo Vadis,” now in production in Italy, is being dramatized by Maurice Druker, manager of Loew’s State. Druker has had a large display case erected in the theatre lobby upon which he posts weekly cablegrams reporting the progress of the film, now about half finished.

In addition, photographs showing the picture in the making are displayed. Intense interest has been expressed by patrons entering and leaving the theatre. Many of them have stopped to ask Druker how soon the film will come to the city.

Note: Quo Vadis would open in New York in November, 1951. It opened at this theatre in Providence, then known as Loew’s State, not long after that.

Patsy on February 11, 2010 at 3:56 am

Go to the link below to read more about this theatre and the City of Providence proclaiming Feb 17 as Temptations Day. Otis Williams is the last remaining original Temptation.

VincentPrice on August 10, 2009 at 2:15 am

When it was the Palace Theater, there used to be two movies for $.99. I saw a lot of Gene Wilder movies, and smoked a lot of dope upstairs in the bathroom during intermission! It was dense with dope smokers. When they cracked down on that, business dropped.

MPol on June 22, 2009 at 9:46 pm

How I wish that the PPAC would go back to having their Big Screen Classic Film Series! I miss that.

bygonedays on October 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Wayne Underwood asks about the entrance to the old Loew’s Theater on Richmond Street. I am familiar with that side of the building, as I waited there each weekday morning (~1969), for the city bus to take me to the East side where I attended high school. I recall the Loew’s sign on Richmond and guessing that door was used for people to exit the theatre. With 3800 people in attendance, it would have been useful to have at least one additional exit. Perhaps in the early days, it was an entrance for the live performers (organist, musicians in the orchestra pit). Does anyone have any definitive information about this side street entrance?

germancreamkiss on October 28, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Well we agree on the semantics. If a person has time to post a link or photo then they also have time to credit the author. Or at the very least go back and give credit when they have receieved a compliment or thanks for a photo that they did not take, such as is the case here.

But I suppose if that person was so busy making multiple comments on as many C/T postings as possible then I can see how they would not have time to give the proper credit.

mp775 on October 27, 2008 at 4:10 pm

If you want to get down to semantics, the photographer “shares” the photo with the Flickr community, not us. Lost Memory “shares” the link to that photo with us. There is nothing inappropriate with thanking him for sharing a link here.

germancreamkiss on October 4, 2008 at 2:41 pm

No, not that it matters, but as much as you comment you often are thanked for “sharing” a photo. The author is the one who shares it.

Just my opinion that anyone who has time to link someone elses photo has time to credit the author.

germancreamkiss on October 2, 2008 at 9:47 pm

That you took credit was not inferred, rather that at the very least the author of a photo deserves the courtesy of being mentioned along with their wotk.

germancreamkiss on October 2, 2008 at 6:13 pm

I wonder if it would be too much trouble for lostmemory to begin crediting the author of the photos that he links on Cinema Treasures? It would be nice if the appropriate person could be thanked or recognized for taking the photo rather than the person that submits the comment. I see that his comments run into the hundreds.

MPol on October 2, 2008 at 4:40 am

Thanks for posting and sharing this photo of PPAC with us, Lost Memory. It’s cool. The Providence Performing Arts Center is a beautiful theatre, both inside and out.

MPol on July 11, 2008 at 1:35 am

The Providence Performing Arts Center is also another beautiful old theatre palace that’s perfect for showing old classics, etc., and alsoi has a balcony. Up until several years ago, they, too had classic film series. I saw my alltime favorite movie, West Side Story, which played as part of the film series that year, in 2000, which was also coincided with a big promotion of Wurlitzer Organ that they were having. Before the movie started, however, the audience was treated to rather schmaltzy organ renditions of several prominent WSS songs, which resembled the kind of music that’s frequently heard on a skating rink or a ballpark during a baseball game. The organist went on just a bit too long, and I thought he would never get off, especially since the movie had started. Finally, the organist and organ, both of which and who had been sitting on a small piece of the floor that was automatically pulled down below the stage was whisked down below the platform by some sort of motor and pulleys, or whatever, and, we all enjoyed the film. Although there were only 600 people in a 3500-seat theatre, we all enjoyed the film. Just going to the PPAC and even looking at the outside was a wonderfully artistic experience in itself. Since I had a parttime job at a nearby piano dealer shop as a floor tuner, I drove down to Providence, RI, from the Bay State quite frequently. It was only an hour and a half south of where I live—no big deal.

A couple of years later, I got to see a wonderful stage production of WSS, which was an equally wonderful experience. On several occasions, I tuned the piano backstage of the theatre, which was kind of neat, also.

WayneUnderwood on June 16, 2008 at 12:44 am

I am curious about the entrance to the PPAC building on Richmond Street (to the right when facing the theater). It matches the architecture of the building and has the Loew’s name in stone above what looks like a public entrance, but obviously not the main entrance. The elaborate stonework matches the main building, but is only one story tall. The structure is at an odd angle to the main theater building. And there is a plaque the essentially says 5 feet in front of that structure is not a public sidewalk but is private property. Is this original to the Loew’s State Theatre? Was it added or somehow changed during previous renovations? If original, what was it used for? Would like to hear anything you know about this. Thanks, Wayne

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 13, 2007 at 1:15 pm

In his book Downcity: Downtown Providence in the 1950s, Carmen Maiocco gives a thumbnail history of Loew’s State Theatre:

“To understand the history of Loew’s State Theater, now the Providence Performing Arts Center, at 220 Weybosset Street, you have to go back to the first decade of the twentieth century, to one of the early moguls of the American film industry, Marcus Loew. Loew got started in 1905 running peep shows in penny arcades. He began buying up vaudeville halls, and by the end of World War I, he controlled approximately 60 silent movie theaters. Not satisfied merely to exhibit films, he wanted to produce them too. In the early 1920s, Marcus Loew purchased two struggling businesses, the Metro Picture Company and the Goldwyn Picture Company. He merged the pair and hired a gentleman named Louis B. Mayer to oversee making the films, and, voilà – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, MGM, was born. MGM cranked out the pictures, which were then shown in Loew’s theaters from coast to coast. In time, Loew’s Theaters became one of the largest movie house chains in the United States with over 300 locations. In the mid-1920s, Loew’s company decided to construct a huge theater in Providence on Weybosset Street. On opening day, October 6, 1928, over 14,000 people jammed the building to marvel at the eye-popping opulence, and to see the film Excess Baggage starring William Haines. The fans were led to their seats by 50 uniformed ushers, past perches in the lobby holding talking parrots. For the next 40 years, Loew’s State Theater, with its seating capacity of 3,200, was Providence’s premier motion picture palace.

“Arthur P. Slater was the State Theater’s chief projectionist for 40 years. The State’s final manager was M.J. Cullen. One of the major attractions of Loew’s State was always the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ. On opening night, in 1928, the organ rose dramatically out of the orchestra pit, and was played by Joseph Stover, imported all the way from Paris. (The Wurlitzer can still be heard at free concerts presented to the public by the theater every summer.) In the ‘50s the organist was a very popular gentleman named Maurice Cook, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1954.
"Skip ahead 20 years to the 1970s and things don’t look too bright for Loew’s State. The theater was suffering from that potentially fatal disease – empty seats. The parking lot developers who had a field day with downtown Providence in the 1970s started to eye the building, circling like vultures in the sky above a stumbling old lion. In steped downtown entrepreneur B.A. Dario. Dario purchased Loew’s State in 1971 and he and his family ran it for a few years as an arena for boxing matches and rock musical shows. But even that didn’t work, and in the mid-1970s, Dario announced his intention to tear down the building. [His RKO Albee a block over on Westminster Street was torn down in 1970 after having acquired that. ~GD] According to one account, when Dario’s wife Sylvia heard her husband’s demolition plans, she burst into tears. Those tears marked the beginning of the salvation of one of Providence’s most glamorous structures. Thank you, Mrs. Dario. In 1977 Dario sold Loew’s State to a consortium of preservationist-minded businessmen, led by the head of the Outlet Company, Bruce Sundlun. The group, aided by the city and Mayor Vincent "Buddy” Cianci, Jr., refurbished the building, and to universal acclamation, held a grand re-opening on the evening of October 6, 1978, fifty years to the day from the theater’s original start. Thousands packed the aisles to watch Ethel Merman lead a night of lively entertainment. Since then the Providence Performing Arts Center has enriched our community far more than words can ever tell, with an endless procession across its stage of musical performances and cultural events."