Thornton's Theatre

1003 Main Street,
West Warwick, RI 02893

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Thornton's Theatre

A village theatre in the River Point section of West Warwick. Thornton’s Opera House was opened in 1895 and was destroyed by fire in 1910. A new theatre was built and it survived into the 1960’s, and was demolished in 1968.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

bgcivilwar on January 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm

To: Mr. Gerald A. DeLuca & to old theatre lovers like you and me!

The Thornton Theatre was demolished in 1968. The address of the Thornton’s Theatre was always 1003 Main Street in the Riverpoint section of Warwick / West Warwick. The city of Warwick had political problems and in 1913 the Western part of Warwick became its own town and it was called West Warwick. I have a photo of the 1968 demolition if you wish to have a copy!

The Palace Theatre was located at 85 Washington Street, in the Arctic Village of West Warwick, Rhode Island. It was a nice family oriented theatre for many years owned by the Erinakes clan. The Erinakes family sold the business during the 1970’s and they moved their operations to East Greenwich, Rhode Island. They built and created the Kent Theatre,the Greenwich Theatre and the Hill Top Drive Inn. I use to work at the Hill Top. The Erinakes family were very nice to work for. Blanche Erinakes and her son Stephen ran the East Greenwich movie houses. They were the best people that I have ever worked for, very kind people.

Then the Play House “movie” Theater ran some good movie shows for awhile, then they held a Disco there & eventually Strip Club took over the old Palace Theatre under new ownership. I have countless newspaper articles that were written about the Play House Strip Club etc.. Most of the residents in the area did not want the “Strip Club” in “West Warwick!” The club was about 300 feet away from a Catholic Church & school. Like I’ve mentioned,I have many articles pertaining to this situation. Eventually the Play House caught on fire in 1995. A “suspicious string of fires” were being set in town by an arson. I don’t know if the arsonist set the Play House on fire, but a dozen big building fires happened in West Warwick during 1995. The Play House was torn down and is now a parking lot for the Hong Kong Restaurant. I have pictures if anyone wishes to see. Anyone can contact me at The Play House Theatre was a big hot topic back in the day! My name is Brian. I am a historian. Have a nice day everyone! I hope to hear from you! I’ll try to answer your questions!

bgcivilwar on May 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

June 12, 1939 Pawtuxet Valley Daily Times Newspaper Owen B. Thornton, in Theatre Enterprise 39 Years, Believed Dean of Rhode Island Theatre Managers. Owen B. Thornton of Riverpoint believed the oldest theatre promoter in RI in point of years in the enterprise, started Thorton’s Opera House an Main street in 1895 and still is on the job. He was associated with his brothers, the late James Thornton, the firm being known as Thornton Brothers, James died 13 years ago and John the following year. The first motion picture to be released by producers, one-reels were shown at the Thornton’s Opera House. The Bio graphs, Essanay’s and Seligs were the oral companies making the silent films. A year after the introduction of the moving pictures the two-reelers made their appearance. The first movie show at Riverpoint was a three reels, together with illustrated songs by William Delaney, tenor and vaudeville. “The Fencing Master” The first professionals to come to Thornton’s were the Gorman Boys who entered the Valley via Riverpoint train station. Such light operas as “The Fencing Master.” “Robin Hood” and “Pinafore” were presented by high grade talent at Riverpoint, including Julia Tracy, noted soprano. “The Fencing Master,” the first light opera here was an outstanding show in it’s day, the presentation being in 1895. Many outstanding stock companies came to Thornton’s. in 1910 the opera house was destroyed by fire and temporary shows were given at Temperance Hall, and later a building was constructed on the back portion of the lot containing the ruins, and here shows were held until the present structure was completed.

Compiled by Brian Edmund Guiot

bgcivilwar on May 24, 2015 at 4:59 pm

I have photographs of both Thornton’s Opera House and photographs of the fire. I’d like to show them to you but I don’t know how to add them to this layout. If you wish to have a free copy contact My name is Brian Edmund Guiot. Happy to help out the movie fans!

bgcivilwar on May 24, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Buffalo Bill, Jr. Big Hit Treat on Thornton’s Slate! “The interfacial Gent” which presents Buffalo Bill, Jr. at Thornton’s all week starting tomorrow was adapted from “Circle D. Borrows and Owner”, one of the best stories ever written by Rauge Rider and certainly one of the best in which the star has appeared. When it was published in Western Stories Magazines every star of Western dramas seemed to be after it. Bill obtained it solely because the author was glad to provide him with a story he liked-which looks like a nice way of stating that other stories, not so true to genuine ranch life. may be sold to other stars who do not know what genuine ranch life is really like. “The Interfering Gent” was adapted for the screen by Betty Burbridge and Frank Ingram, and the supporting cast include Olive Hasbrrouck, Harry Todd, Jim Corey, Walter Maly, Harry Behmour, E. W. Broman and others. Richard Thorpe directed.

Article from the Pawtuxet Valley Daily Times. Date unknown. Compiled by Brian Edmund Guiot

bgcivilwar on May 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm

This is from the Warwick & West Warwick Business Directories. Note due to nasty politics the western part of Warwick split from Warwick in 1913. The new town was called West Warwick, Rhode Island as it is still today. The names of the streets changed after awhile. 1911 directory – James C. Thornton proprietor Thornton’s Theatre. John H. Thornton, manager Thornton’s Theatre and Liquors next door. Thornton’s Theatre located on Allen Street. Allen Street name was changed to Main Street… 1915 Business directory James C. proprietor of Thornton’s Theatre and also Thornton’s Garage. He lived on East Main Street Riverpoint very close to the theatre. John Thornton manager of the theatre and Liquor store. Owen B. Thornton treasurer of the theatre…1927 Owen B. Thornton Manager of the Thornton Theatre. Owen’s wife was Sarah E.. Theatre 1028 Main Street. 1929 Owen still the manager.

Note the building next to the Thornton’s Theatre a vacant run down building, used to be the former Omer Duquette V. F. W. Hall just caught on fire, a total loss on May 22, 2015.

The location of the Thornton’s Theatre is just a vacant lot with another vacant building on the opposite side of the building to where the Thornton’s Theater was. That building is also a mess and is vacant. If anyone wants photographs for free, please Email me at

Research by Brian Edmund Guiot

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 29, 2015 at 6:24 am

NICE INTERIOR PHOTO OF THORNTON’S THEATRE This looks like it was taken during the silent movie era. Thanks to Brian Edmund Guiot.

robboehm on May 30, 2015 at 7:00 am

Gerald, might I suggest you add images to the photo section. Links tend to be broken over time.

robboehm on May 30, 2015 at 9:19 am

Thanks Gerald.

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