Carlton Theatre

79 Mathewson Street,
Providence, RI 02903

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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.

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.

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 January 15, 2011 at 4:45 am

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

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 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 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 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 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 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]

dougvbrown on November 18, 2007 at 4:31 pm

071118= Prov Theaters dougvbrown files

Researching Mathewson St (79) Carlton –(121)Rialto- (126)Casino and
(193) Union St Empire Theater bldgs Prov.,RI
Read recently that the Carlton Theater bldg -at 79 Mathewson St Prov. RI
architect was William R. Walker & Sons who designed several other bldgs down city Prov— After reading MING’s keen observation of the Carlton facade VS the Rialto facade my mystery is the Casino Theater bldg -126 Mathewson St Prov RI …. if it was also designed by William R. Walker & Sons ?

As an eyewitness to the Casino Theater bldg (Shepard’s Tearoom-1947)
the 1916 photo of the Emery/Carlton Theater bldg had me fooled to thinking it was the Casino Theater -because of the alley windows design ..
at Shepard’s one alley window was actually the kitchen rear door & on hot days many smoke break hrs and the alley architecture was etched in my
mind and the aromas……Guess you have to had been there
Thanks MING…..

ming on November 18, 2007 at 7:26 am

Hi! i’m an interior architecture student from RISD researching on the Rialto Theater.

Does anyone know why the architecture of the facade of Rialto and Carlton are so similar? Were they by the same architect, and who was he??

I know that the original structure of Rialto (when it was first the Westminster Congregational Church) was designed by Warren, Tallman & Bucklin (architects of the Arcade), and William R. Walker & Sons did the 1902 facade renovations (to become the Scenic Temple?)
Please solve the mystery for me?


dougvbrown on June 19, 2006 at 1:19 pm

060620- Prov Theaters- dvb files

The Prov City Directories 1946 -thru-1954 list The Carlton Theater -John Toohey/mgr
at 79 Mathewson St –( ref Prov Public Library ) Jun 2006

File Photos of the theater bldg 1st as the EMERY(1916)-and 2nd the CARLTON(1953) and
being razed “The Man in the rubble”(1954) and a recent photo (Jun 2006) across the
79 Mathewson St parking lot i.e. showing the rear corner of the Merchantile bldg (Washington St)
windows details -there is positive ID of Emery=Carlton Theater
Bldg being located at 79 Mathewson St closed & razed Mar 1954………….

Movies seen 1945 fall on two separate showings

“DILLINGER” Lawrence Tierney (debut) and “OVER 21” Irene Dunne

Tierney, as Dillinger, a black &white classic gangster film, but not quite Film Noir
unforgetable prison scenes never saw Tierney acting before that or ever again……….sorta
makes his Chicago Bijou Theater alley death scene ,,,,, so final……..

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 7, 2006 at 11:53 pm

This World War I era photo shows the Dreyfus Hotel at the corner of Washington and Mathewson Streets. Next to the Dreyfus can be seen the Emery Theatre, behind the lamp-post.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 7, 2006 at 5:15 pm

There was no Carlton on Weybosset Street, ever. Period. The only Carlton was on Mathewson Street, number 79, built in 1914 as the Emery Theatre, closed in 1953, demolished in 1954. Period.

dougvbrown on June 7, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Prov Theaters- dvb files-060607 Corrections on CARLTON Theater -79 Mathewson St
Research in progress- Looking for photo of 1952 CARLTON theater -Weybosset St- odd numbered side across from Garnet St-that bldg possibly razed 1953-1954………
Possible that the Providence Journal story (1996) confused the history of the older Carlton theater
79 Mathewson St (razed 1946?) with the new Carlton theater Weybosset St-(razed 1953-54?)
by using the file photo of “The man in the rubble ” which is connected with the 1946 razing

If anyone has info on the New Carlton-Weybosset St 1950-1954 please comment here or


Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 4, 2006 at 12:37 pm

You have some fascinating memories here, sir! Thank you for posting your recollections.

Regarding the Carlton Theatre: it existed until 1953. Providence Journal advertisements that I checked have verified this. I myself remember seeing Angelo and Peter Pan here when a child. I saw Peter Pan there in 1953 when I was 11. The site is now a parking lot in the block between Fountain Street and Washington Street. The theatre on Mathewson Street between Washington Street and Westminster Street that was razed in the 1940s and that you went to was probably the Rialto, across from Shepard’s Tea Room. The front part still exists! There is a link to a picture I posted on the Rialto page. Shepard’s Tea Room replaced a much older theatre called the Casino that survived only into the 1920s. I would be very much interested in what (else) you have to say about the Empire, about the Bijou (“the sink”), the Capitol, the Metropolitan, and any other Providence theatres. Can you post more information on those pages? They are ALL on Cinema Treasures.

dougvbrown on June 4, 2006 at 12:03 pm

060603- prov theaters-dvb files

I was an eyewitness to the razing of the Mathewson St Theater bldg,?(1948)
located directly behind the Washington St Dreyfus Hotel bldg near
(cor Washington/Mathewson Sts) and mid block between Fountain and
Washington – (bldg razed abt 1948 )– Your Emery/Carlton bldg (1916
postcard ) -seems to be Mathewson St.mid block Westminster/Washington Sts-
(Tilden-Thurber bldg on next cor there? Westminster St ?)
What say you ? The old Carlton Theater bldg in the next block??

dvb notes
In 1947 the Carlton Theater bldg 1st floor was the Shepard’s Tea Room
restaurant – with direct inside connection to the 5 story Shepard’s Dept. Store bldg
bounded by Westminster/Union/Washington Sts.–& maybe an alley Oh
it was Clemence St sure its all coming back………(Pie Alley )
My question is the name /history and pics of the Mathewson St Theater
razed abt 1948 and definitely no active Mathewson St theater 1948 -1958 era
and no Carlton Theater on Mathewson St in the1940’s or1950’s……
I’ll try to find the answers after all that was my backyard ..
I know the area ……read on

I lived and worked the Providence downtown area 1943 thru 1950-(incl) and at one time, attended movie sessions 28 nights every month——for the two years 1945 -1946- Each evening after dinner
(Miss Dutton’s-Washington St ) I’d do a walking tour of the eight different marquees starting up Washington FAYS-
STRAND-MAJESTIC-thru Mahewson St to cor Westminster St where I could read 4 marquees from one spot
nearby RKO ALBEE-& down across from Shepard’s -the EMPIRE (@Union St) &-LOEWS State-Weybosset St
and on Mathewson St —the Carlton(you say) (razed 1948? I say)—-If I had seen all movies showing,-I would go see something again—– most of the biggie flicks usually held over I got to see 9 or 10 times -I still thrill at the Hitchcock Climax(s) and the unique camera work

Providence Theater Notes – 1940’s FAYS-stage shows featured BUDDY PAGE’s Orchestra
Buddy had many pre show dinners @ Miss Dutton’s Green Room one of his curtain call songs still
rings in my ears “Say it with Music”—Thanks Mr FAY and BUDDY & crew

EM FAY provided the band and outdoor Concerts Free to the public in front of the OUTLET Co.
176 Weybosset St EM FAY was long time friends with Joseph SAMUELS/Outlet Co Concert Sponser

doug v brown- 060604

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 8, 2005 at 2:04 am

In addition to its regular programs, the Carlton Theatre, in 1951, began presenting video broadcasts of sporting events such as championship fights and football games. The debut occurred on September 29 with an exclusive look at the Notre Dame – Indiana game, which was not carried on any commercial channel. In addition, viewers saw a double feature plus short subjects, all for $1. Only a handful of patrons turned out, according to an article in the Providence Journal the following day.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 1, 2005 at 7:48 am

There are a couple on this site. Look above to my links, especially the postcard of June 16. There is one in the kiosk at the corner of Mathewson and Fountain Streets. The Rhode Island Historical Society may have some. The Providence Journal archives will certainly have some. The book Temples of Illusion by Roger Brett has a history under the theatre names of Emery and Carlton.

kgelnett on August 1, 2005 at 5:51 am

We are in the process of restoring the Dreyfus Hotel which is located next door to the Emery Theatre (now a parking lot) on Mathewson and Washington Streets. Does anyone have any photographs or information on this adjacent building? Thanks!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 22, 2005 at 2:36 am

The Italian film Anna also played here in that “final” April of 1953. It starred the luscious Silvana Mangano of Bitter Rice fame. Here she played a woman with a tainted past who decides to become a nun. There is a famous song/dance scene in the movie when Mangano sings “"El negro Zumbon,” a ‘bajon’ sung in Spanish. It became a popular song hit even in America. The movie was dubbed for wider release, and appeared in that version here.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 22, 2005 at 1:20 am

Actually, the theatre lingered on until the very end of the month with The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima and a double bill of The Mummy and The Mummy’s Curse. Peter Pan was announced for a return visit, but no ads appeared beginning around May 1st. The theatre had closed for good.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 21, 2005 at 3:04 am

When I was 11 in 1953, my sister took me to see Walt Disney’s Peter Pan playing with the Disney featurette Bear Country. This was the beginning of April. In a matter of weeks, on April 23, the theatre was to shut down after its last show.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 20, 2005 at 12:24 am

This photo was taken on March 19, 1954 as the Carlton was being demolished. The manager John E. Toohey stands amid the rubble like Gloria Swanson in the famous photo of New York’s Roxy.