1017 Broad Street,
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The Liberty Theatre opened on March 7, 1921 with House Peters in “The Great Redeemer” & Buster Keaton in “The Saphead”. For many decades this was a neighborhood theatre, in the Elmwood/Washington Park area of Providence. In early-1958 it became an art house renamed Art Cinema, programmed by the Lockwood Gordon chain that owned the Avon Theatre on the East Side of Providence. The first film under this new policy was Rene Clement’s “Gervaise”.
Though at first moderately successful, the theatre went into decline as programs failed to attract significant audiences to that out-of-the-way part of town. Adult films, mostly of the soft variety, failed to change things and the theatre eventually closed by the time the 1970’s arrived.
The building is still there, but the theatre has been pretty much gutted and the raked floor made level. The proscenium and projection booth were still there when last I looked. The place was a used furniture store for a while. The dilapidated marquee remains. There was talk about a neighborhood-generated restoration effort, but nothing happened for quite some time. In early-2020 following a restoration it reopened as the Bomes Theatre featuring cabaret & nightclub type shows.
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