Carlton Theatre

79 Mathewson Street,
Providence, RI 02903

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Carlton Theatre

A medium sized theatre in downtown Providence, the 1,786-seat Emery Theatre was opened October 26, 1914. It opened with Marcus Loew’s vaudeville plus movies. The proscenium was 38ft wide and the stage 32ft deep. In December 1914 Mae West appeared here.

In 1927 it was renamed Carlton Theatre. It was used through much of its existence as a second-run or move-over theatre. The Carlton Theatre was demolished in 1954 and a parking lot is on the site today.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 38 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 6, 2009 at 8:49 am

An ad appearing in the Providence newspaper on August 30, 1926:

[i]Edward M. Fay announces the reopening next Monday at noon of the new Emery, a Fay Theatre, 79 Mathewson Street.

Completely refurnished, redecorated and re-established as a modern theatre, a marvel of the decorator’s art. Under new and efficient managerial supervision. A Playhouse providing entertainment in comfort for each member of the family. Its shows guaranteed to be consistently good —– vaudeville and pictures.[/i]

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 16, 2010 at 9:20 am

Notice on the death of Providence exhibitor John F. Toohey, who ran the Carlton over a period of years. This article includes a brief history of the theatre up to its closing in 1953 and razing in 1954. Boxoffice magazine, October 14, 1963:
View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 24, 2010 at 10:02 am

Item in Boxoffice magazine, October 25, 1952:

“The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” packed them in at the Majestic. It was scheduled to move to the Carlton for an undetermined period."

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

A view of the Carlton Theatre marquee and Mathewson Street can be seen in this photo which probably dates to the late 1940s or early 1950s.
View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm

The Emery Theatre closed for the sumer of 1927 for refurbishing, was renamed the Carlton Theatre, and opened under that name on Labor Day, September 5, 1927 with a film program of The Gingham Girl (“Broadway’s greatest musical show brought to the screen”), starring Geo. K. Arthur and Lois Wilson. But this was a silent film. Sound would not fully arrive for another couple of years. Also on the program was an Our Gang comedy called “The Glorious Fourth”, the news, and five live Vaudeville acts. The theatre’s grand organ and orchestra are mentioned in the ad. Programs ran from noon to 10:30 P.M., Sundays from 2:30.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 12, 2011 at 5:17 am

In an unusual bit of programming in February 1921, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid was booked simultaneously in five downtown Providence theatres: the Strand, the Emery, the Modern, Fays, and the Rialto. Occasionally some highly anticipated movies might play in two downtown theatres, but never five! It seems to have run only one week, in an era when that was pretty much the norm, with films running a single week downtown, then moving to second run theatres and outlying houses. Each of these theatres accompanied this feature with short subjects or live Vaudeville acts.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 15, 2011 at 4:45 am

In September 1926, this theatre was part of the eleven-theatre Celebrate Paramount Week.
Newspaper ad.

JulieAnnMazza on February 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Mr. DeLuca, I noticed that the picture of the Carlton is contributed by you. Is this a cropped photo? I am interested in seeing a photo of the Carlton where you can see the alleyway that separated it (on the right side if you were facing the front) from the Palmer Block building. Or perhaps if you had any other photos which may show this. Thank you, Julie

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 21, 2013 at 3:08 am

JulieAnnMazza, No, that was taken from a newspaper clipping and is all there was. The Providence Journal archives may contain a wider photo. My link of June 16, 2005 (q.v.) shows more. It is a postcard image of when the theatre was the Emery. Photos of the Carlton are impossibly rare.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 1, 2015 at 11:52 am

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Carlton, Card # 541. There is an exterior photo dated May 1941. The theater is on Mathewson St., and is in Good condition. It was over 15 years old as of 1941, and shows MGM product. Seating: Orchestra, 873; Balcony,318; Mezzanine, 248; Total: 1,439 seats.

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