Bijou Theatre

273 Main Street,
Woonsocket, RI 02895

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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 6, 2015 at 11:31 am

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Bijou, it’s Card # 561. There is an exterior photo taken May 1941. The theater is in Fair condition. It was over 15 years old and was not showing MGM films. The seating is listed as 1,500.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 16, 2011 at 5:24 pm

An article on the 1925 fall season opening of the Bijou with programs of movies and vaudeville appeared in the August 16, 1925 issue of the Evening Tribune. CLICK HERE.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 21, 2010 at 9:36 am

Item in Boxoffice magazine, August 21, 1943:

The Bijou, Woonsocket, put on an 11:30 p.m. defense workers show during the run of “Crash Dive” last week. Newspaper ads invited workers to “Come as you are—-Don’t Change Yur Clothes.” Stunt brought out a good-sized audience.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 18, 2009 at 12:11 pm

From an article on Woonsocket theatres in The Providence Journal.

Copyright Providence Journal/Evening Bulletin May 16, 1985

“On the other end of Main Street, where Chan’s Restaurant is now, was the Bijou Theatre, referred to in some local history books as the Electric Theatre. It was a house of worship before becoming a vaudeville and movie house.

“The Social Methodist House was moved a block near the turn of the century to 273 Main St. to make way for a new post office. In 1912, to the church auditorium was added space for a stage and wings, and the building leased to famed theatrical figure Edward Albee. Stock companies, vaudevillians and movies played there.

“The Bijou was hit twice by fire. The second, November 23, 1936, closed the theater for 13 months. It closed again in 1952 because business was off, reopening weekends only in 1955, but dark for many months at a stretch before its demolition began the final day of 1963. It’s last owner was U.S. Sen. Theodore Francis Greene.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 22, 2008 at 10:20 am

In this photo from 1956 you can see part of the marquee for the Bijou, saluting the Boy Scouts Jamboree, February 8, 1956.

ChetDowling
ChetDowling on June 30, 2007 at 3:23 am

Only two theatres in Woonsocket ran first-run movies. The Bijou ran Fox, Universal and Columbia. The Stadium ran Paramount, MGM, Warner Bros and Republic. The Rialto, Olympia, Park and Laurier showed the same product in second-run. On occasion the Laurier would run French language films. Regardless of release dates, they were probably first run for Woonsocket. Generally, a first-run movie would play Woonsocket about a month after it opened in Providence. Woonsocket was a Double-feature town. The second features were usually one-hour low budget films from Allied Artists, United Artists, PRC, Monogram, and a few Independents.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 17, 2006 at 9:18 am

Here is an old postcard view of North Main Street with the Bijou Theatre seen on the right. The card was mailed in 1912 and probably dates from around 1910 or a bit earlier. Expand image for more detail.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 30, 2006 at 1:06 am

The 1949 Film Daily Yearbook gives the seating capacity as 879. I was told by someone who used to vist the theatre that it had a balcony.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 29, 2005 at 11:05 am

Here are two photos relating to the Bijou:

This first photo shows Main Street in 1920 with the Bijou on the right just beyond the bridge. Note the white dome and the figure atop it. It is an eagle.

This second photo shows that eagle now serving as a souvenir on a local lawn.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 26, 2005 at 12:32 am

From Woonsocket, Rhode Island – A Centennial History, 1888-1988:

World War II years at Woonsocket theatres

Throughout the war years, local movie houses supplied war-weary citizens with much-needed entertainment. At that time the city boasted six theaters: the New Park and the Stadium at Monument Square, the Bijou on lower Main Street, the Olympia and the Rialto in the Market Square area, and the Laurier in the Social district.

Movies not only boosted patriotism and morale, but they also were instrumental in raising millions of dollars in war bonds. Theatergoers were constantly reminded on newsreels and by screen actors that there was “a war on.”

These same movie houses were also used for bond rallies which included live stage acts. One such rally was held at the Stadium Theatre on June 13, 1944. Billed as the Fifth War Loan, the spectacle included a local war hero, Captain John T. Godfrey, and Woonsocket’s young Eileen Farrell, who music critics claimed was on the verge of a “brilliant operatic career.”

The most impressive of these bond rallies was that of September 9, 1943. This “Salute to Our Heroes” dinner was sponsored by the local theater managers headed by Benjamin Greenberg.

1950-1960

Those seeking an evening, or even an afternoon, at the movies had their choice of six movie theaters in 1950. The Olympia, Rialto, Bijou, and Stadium on Main Street; the New Park on North Main Street; and the Laurier on Cumberland Street. Most of these had matinees as well as evening performances, and all featured two movies—the double feature.

Competition for customers, plus the beginnings of competition by television, led theater owners to add inducements to their movie billings. At the Olympia, viewers could play “Honey” for cash prizes, while the New Park featured Silver Dollar Nights. At the Laurier, management appealed to the distaff side by offering china and silverware as gifts. Those who sought family entertainmnet could travel to the Rhode Island Auditorium in Providence to enjoy the Ice Capades for a price ranging from $1.25 to $3.80.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 20, 2005 at 1:41 am

According to a 1934 reference, the Bijou was located next to the old Elks Hall, which then became Federal Hall and was across from the offices of the Woonsocket Call at the time. A 1915 photo of the Bijou and the adjacent Elks Hall appears above on my posting of June 18.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 16, 2005 at 9:47 am

The exact address where the Bijou used to be located is now occupied by a restaurant called Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining, a rather sizable establishment. It has been there for many decades. It looks entirely like a post-Bijou building and none of the original theatre appears to have survived. The location is right next to the railroad overpass on Main Street, behind the historic Woonsocket Depot. Further up Main Street, at Monument Square, is the Stadium Theatre, Woonsocket’s only preserved movie palace. Just beyond the Stadium on the same side but across the square, would have been the Park Theatre/Woonsocket Opera House, destroyed in a 1975 fire.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 26, 2005 at 5:47 am

An August, 1928 article in the Providence Journal reported that the Publix Theatre Corporation took over the lease of the Keith-Albee interests of the Bijou Theatre that month. The lease had ten more years to run. This had been a Keith-Albee theatre for the previous 21 years. The Bijou seated 960 people.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 18, 2005 at 4:13 am

Here are three photos of the Bijou over the years:
1910
1915
1950

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 14, 2005 at 2:49 am

In June of 1950 a program was Howard Hughes' “The Outlaw” with Jane Russell along with “Harbor of Missing Men” with Richard Denning.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 13, 2005 at 10:33 am

The theatre also featured vaudeville. The 1929 ad I mentioned above also touted “5 big acts.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 13, 2005 at 10:27 am

I did some glancing through The Woonsocket Call on microfilm. A December 1929 ad advertising “Tanned Legs” referred to the Bijou as a Publix Theatre. I saw that the place was still operating in 1957 and had installed CinemaScope along with everyone else, but by 1958 the ads stopped; so it must have closed around then.