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 11 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 30, 2005 at 6:40 pm

On January 20, 1906, according to an ad in the Pawtuxet Valley Times, this place was known as Thornton’s Opera House and promoted showings of “Belmont’s Moving Pictures and Illustrated Songs.” At the end of May of 1906, a movie San Francisco After the Earthquake was advertised. No other movie theatres or theatres of any kind were listed in the local paper at that same time.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 8, 2005 at 1:48 am

A 1927 city directory lists four town theatres: Majestic, Gem, Palace, Thornton’s. I have found newspaper ads for all except the Majestic. Also, the Star, in the Natick section of West Warwick, remains a mysterious early-silent-era cinema.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 11, 2005 at 3:00 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 3:23 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 5:14 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 3, 2006 at 6:43 pm

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 10:15 am

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 6:15 am

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 8:55 am

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

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 24, 2013 at 5:00 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.

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