Pastime Theater

91 Bradford Street,
Bristol, RI 02809

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RItlingit on February 25, 2018 at 9:23 pm

In 1987 I was hired by the owners of the cinema on Bradford Street in Bristol. At that time it had two screens. Originally I sold concessions and ushered. I then became a projectionist, cutting together the films and winding them on the platts, starting them up and taking them off to pack into the film cases. I had had experience when I lived in Alaska. I remember Empire of the Sun played that year. There were two women that owned the theater and they lived close by as roomates. They had a daughter, a preteen. I left to go to the Marriott in Newport when they opened. I know that the Theater stayed open for a few years more at least. I miss this theater as it was a neighborhood fixture and I have good memories of it. Unfortunately this link does not work anymore. Is there another link for it?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 25, 2015 at 8:18 am

1941 PHOTO OF PASTIME THEATRE IN MGM REPORT Thanks to Theatre Historical Society of America.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 18, 2015 at 11:08 am

The Theatre Historical Society has the MGM Theatre Report for the Pastime Theatre; it’s Card # 523. Address is Bradford St. There is an exterior photo dated May 1941. The marquee had an attraction board only on its left side. The condition is Good. The report says the Pastime was built in 1935, but then says it has been showing MGM films for “over 10 years”. There were 616 seats. The 1940 population of Bristol was 11,100.

rkq on December 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I grew up in Bristol, indeed it was a single screen. As a child fond memories, a dollar would get you a ticket,a popcorn,soda and hershey bar. You knew the movie was about to start when you saw the manager go to the stage to open the curtain.In high school it was my first job. I sold concession and cleaned, at that time it was still a single screen.The concession stand and popcorn warmer was actually bought at the auction of the equipment of the Majestic in Providence.One event i’ll never forget was opening weekend, the film was “Airport”.For some reason they put up masking for a scope picture,well they did it without testing the picture size.When the film started, the picture overlaped 4 feet on the bottom. I had to go up on the stage and infront of the sold out audiance, pull the masking down.The early 70’s the theater was twined,each day cement masons came in to build a cinder block wall, and at the end of the day we came in to fill the blocks with sand,i guess to keep the sound from bleeding through.After the twining,it will be remembered as the theater with the couches.Couches were installed instead of seats.As for me, I always will remember the manager walking down front and the big red velvet curtain opening.

DocWatson on May 28, 2013 at 7:34 am

Lostmemory’s 2007 post’s photo gave me the URL, which resulted in this:

Additionally, I was visiting home in Bristol the weekend before last, and when we were discussing the theater, my father mentioned that it had originally had a single screen. I don’t remember it being that way, though I do recall that it was obvious that it had been changed. Thus the conversion must have been between 1969 (the year we arrived in town) and the late 1970s. Another name for it was the Bristol Twin Cinema.

The land is currently occupied by an expansion of the neighboring Andrews School (to stage right in the photos), as also partly implied by the marquee in lostmemory’s first photo.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 20, 2011 at 11:02 am

In September 1922 this theatre was part of Rhode Island’s Paramount Week. Click to see the ad in Providence News, September 1, 1922, which contains a list of all participating theatres as well as the films shown that week.


Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 25, 2010 at 2:44 am

Item in Boxoffice magazine, June 12, 1961:

Joseph J. Modleski buys Rhode Island Theatres
WARREN. R.I. —-Joseph J. Modleski has purchased two Rhode Island Theatres, the Lyric in Warren and the Pastime in Bristol, effective as of June 1. Modleski has been operating both of the situations on lease the last two years from the estate of Lon Vail.

Prior to leasing the Lyric and Pastime, Modleski had served as manager pf the Lyric for Vail until the latter’s death. Modleski broke into motion picture exhibition in August 1920 as an usher at the Lyric Theatre. He told BOXOFFICE that he plans to make alterations at both of the theatres.

BobEvans on February 26, 2007 at 3:45 pm

When the Pastime was one theater it did hold 600 people.

Bob Evans

BobEvans on February 26, 2007 at 3:43 pm

As a kid I would attend the ten cent matinees at the Pastime. My adopted “uncle” was the projectionist (one of two, actually). We each got a quarter for the afternoon. That bought popcorn and two candy bars or popcorn and a drink.
We’d see a cartoon, the feature, and either a serial or a Three Stooges or the like.
Good times, Good times.
The Pastime was one of the first theaters in RI to get Cinemascope.

Bob Evans

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 21, 2006 at 9:41 am

The Pastime Theatre has been demolished. Today I saw the fenced-in vacant lot.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 20, 2006 at 5:49 am

The Pastime Theatre was not the only one to have existed in this town. Another Bristol theatre is the long-forgotten Star Theatre that was on Hope Street next to the Rogers Free Library. It seems to have survived into the 1920s. An old postcard image can be linked to on the Star Theatre page. Information about the Star is most welcome.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 30, 2006 at 12:31 am

The 1949 Film Daily Yearbook listed the seating capacity as 600.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 22, 2005 at 12:22 pm

Locals who have been attempting to restore and re-open as a cultural facility the historic Pastime Theatre are not giving up and are fighting the town of Bristol. With a deadline for mortgage payment approaching, members of the Bristol Pastime Theatre Foundation are organizing and attempting to garner support to reverse the Bristol Town Council’s recent decision to lease the old theater to the Bristol Warren Regional School District for use as a school. In the most recent development the Pastime Theatre received a $200,000 federal grant. The Bristol Pastime Theatre Foundation is going to use the money to purchase the theatre from the town, but still needs to raise $141,000 to do it. And they have a very short timeframe, by December 3rd, in which to accomplish this. Yet none of this guarantees that the town will not take over the theatre by eminent domain.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 3, 2005 at 3:31 am

Here are two photos of the old Pastime Theatre that burned down in 1934, before the current structure was built to replace it that same year.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 15, 2005 at 10:14 am

This thumbnail entry appears in the 1990 volume History and Architectural Resources of Bristol, Rhode Island:

“PASTIME THEATER/BRISTOL CINEMA (1934): A 1-story, flat-roofed, Moderne style building of cast concrete, with its original marquee. It stands on the site of the 1784 Congregational Meetinghouse, which had been converted into a theater. Proprietor Lon Vail built the present structure after a fire destroyed the old meetinghouse/theater in 1934.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 24, 2005 at 8:25 am

Copy of an e-mail sent out today:

Dear Supporters of the Pastime Theatre,

At last night’s Town Council meeting, the Council voted unanimously to support the Bristol Pastime Theatre Foundation in its endeavors to keep the theatre as a valued part of the downtown Bristol area. The Board of Directors of the Bristol Pastime Theatre Foundation wants to thank every one of you for his or her support, especially during this past week. Whether it was through phone calls, personal meetings, letters of support, coming out to last night’s meeting, or just positive thoughts and good wishes, we want you to know that you are an essential part of the plan “…to revitalize and sustain the historic Pastime Theatre as a community-based center for the performing arts and cinema”. We thank you greatly and look forward to your continued support.

With deepest appreciation,

The Board of Directors

Bristol Pastime Theatre Foundation

Dyan on November 9, 2004 at 10:40 am

In Novemebr 2003, with the help of the Town of Bristol, the Bristol Pastime Theatre Foundation purchased the Pastime Theatre. The Foundation operates with the mission to revitalize and sustain the historic Pastime Theatre as a community-based center for performing arts and cinema. We are currently in the design development phase and have hired the architectural firm of Wilson Butler, Boston, MA to perform preliminary design work. We are actively raising funds for the renovation/rehabilitation of the theatre and hope to re-open in December 2006. Recent grant awards have included The National Trust For Historic Preservation, The Rhode Island Foundation, and Preserve Rhode Island.
It should be noted the 1934 Art Deco Theatre was designed by Providence based architect, Francis Chiaverini.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 7, 2004 at 11:42 am

When the twin-screened Pastime was still open, it was the closest movie theatre to the residence of actor Anthony Quinn who lived on Poppasquash Road. I don’t know if he actually ever went to the theatre, possibly yes, since he often frequented some of the local dining and shopping establishments in Bristol. After Quinn’s death in 2001, the Pastime showed “Zorba the Greek” as a tribute to one of Bristol’s most noted residents.

Gregg on February 2, 2004 at 8:54 pm

Theater owner, foundation reach accord
A non-profit group has taken over this theate and plan to restore it.