Thornton's Theatre

1003 Main Street,
West Warwick, RI 02893

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A village theatre in the River Point section of West Warwick. It existed in the 1930’s and survived into the 1960’s, after which it was demolished.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 11, 2005 at 9:00 pm

The ads I found for Thornton’s went from 1901, when they were Thornton’s Opera House and doing live theatre. It may have existed in the late 19th Century, but that remains to be checked. Here are local newspaper ads for the Gem, Majestic, and Thornton’s on March 14, 1918.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 11, 2005 at 9:23 pm

Here’s a nice ad from January 30, 1926, for John Ford’s The Iron Horse.

Roland L.
Roland L. on July 23, 2005 at 11:14 am

I just love reading about the turn of the century theaters and their transformation to movie houses.

What I found particularly interesting was the newspaper ad for the Thornton Theater. The ad states the fee of .10c and .01c for War Tax. WWI, that is as Stolen Hours came out in 1918!!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 4, 2006 at 12:43 am

Here is a postcard image of Thornton’s Opera House as it appeared in 1907.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 25, 2006 at 4:15 pm

The Thornton Opera House in Warwick (postoffice, River Point) is listed in the 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Officil Theatrical Guide. The manager was J.H. Thornton and the press agent was O.B. Thornton. Seating capacity wass 1,500. The proscenium opening was 30 feet wide X 17 feet high. The stage was 24 feet deep. The theatre was on the 2nd floor of the building. There were 5 in the orchestra. Admission prices ranged from 25 cents to 75 cents. Local hotels were the Clyde, Warwick and Briggs. Printed posters read “Thornton’s Opera House, River Point.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm

This theatre was part of the September 1923 6th Paramount Week. In this advertisement from the (Providence) Evening Tribune, September 1, 1923, we see a fascinating list of Rhode Island area theatres, many long-gone and long-forgoten, or even unheard of, as well as what they were showing during that week. CLICK HERE and move text to see all theatres.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 21, 2011 at 2:55 pm

A NEWSPAPER AD for Arctic area theatres from September 6, 1925.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 24, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Newspaper ads from 1963 show the theatre was being regularly used for stage productions. The ads refer to the theatre as “The Playhouse,” giving the address 1003 Main Street.

bgcivilwar on January 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I live in West Warwick and I am starting to collect information on the following theaters, Gem, Majestic, Palace, PlayHouse, Odeon, Thornton’s and star. I have many rare photographs. I will put something together. You can e-mail me at tell your friends! – Brian

bgcivilwar on January 5, 2015 at 1:30 am

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!

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