Gem Theater

Island Avenue,
Peaks Island, ME 04108

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maddawgmurph
maddawgmurph on August 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm

There were ¾ theatres on Peaks Island. The first was the Pavilion built in 1887. It is noted by the old New Englander Magazine as the first summer stock theatre in the USA. It had 500 seats, but when the manager started to get Broadway actors to work and vacation on the Island, seat sales shot up, and it was too small. Then in 1898, when the Pavilion leased ran out, the Forest City Skating rink was converted to a 1500 seat, ultra modern theatre called the Gem. The Pavilion continued have some shows, using local summer stock people, and showed Silent Reels, but burned down in 1921 after a State Athletic function, In 1903, another building was built behind the Pavilion building, called the Majestic Skating rink. Both saw hard times after WWI, but survived until the depression hit. A great fire destroyed the Gem in 1934, but the Majestic was taken down in 29/30. Both showed Silents and Talkies when the summer season ended. The last theatre was the Greenwood Garden Skating Rink built in 1884, then it became an Opera house in 1886 when the walls were built to enclose the rink from snow. This became another theatre, dance hall, summer stock, and now the Peaks island Lions Club indoor seating, dance, hall. Rudy Vallee, Rod Steiger, Effrem Zimballist Jr, Jean Stapleton, Martin Landau, and Bette Davis performed here. A great salute to the director John Ford, who had a summer home here, and worked as an usher and ferry hand on Peaks Island before Hollywood fame, was held here in the 1960’s.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm

The 1926 edition of Film Daily Yearbook shows a Pavilion Theatre on Peaks Island, which had 500 seats.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm

The 1918 New England Business Directory lists a Greenwood Garden Theatre showing motion pictures on Peaks Island. Could this have been the same theatre?

bicyclereporter
bicyclereporter on August 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I was there last week. This building does not exist in this location. Should change to “demolished.”