Thornton's Theatre

1003 Main Street,
West Warwick, RI 02893

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robboehm on May 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

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

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 29, 2015 at 9:24 am

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

bgcivilwar on May 27, 2015 at 7:33 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

bgcivilwar on May 24, 2015 at 8:19 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 24, 2015 at 7:59 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 7:54 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 January 4, 2015 at 8:30 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 January 1, 2015 at 10:50 am

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

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 24, 2013 at 6:00 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.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

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

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 17, 2011 at 7:15 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.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 25, 2006 at 11:15 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 May 3, 2006 at 7:43 pm

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

Roland L.
Roland L. on July 23, 2005 at 6:14 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 July 11, 2005 at 4:23 pm

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

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 11, 2005 at 4:00 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 8, 2005 at 2:48 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 June 30, 2005 at 7:40 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 June 22, 2005 at 3:54 pm

The theatre was not a great movie palace, just a well-liked and economical place to see pictures in the Clyde/Riverpoint section of West Warwick. Here is a photo of Thornton’s as it was being demolished.