Updated - 28th of January, 2014.


Comedy1 Comedy2 (Title)

For over 100 years Fitchburg, Massachusetts, has been home to Stage and Theater.
From the mid 1880's up until the mid 1980's there were as many as Ten Theaters all serving an important social role within the neighborhoods and communities.
This page is a small glossary into the rich cultural and architectural past of these Theaters and Play Houses bringing back many important names and memories.
The Theaters have closed, but the Stage performances will last forever.

( Please enable JavaScript for the Midi file, to play below )

<bgsound src="Knockout.mid">

( MIDI File ) - Knockout Drops by Henri Klickman ( 1910 ) - Sequenced by Bud Black.
More on Bud Black and his music - Bottom of Page - ( Used with Permission )



 

 


For people interested in the Old Theaters of Boston

CLICK HERE

for information going back to the 1890 - 1891 period.


 

divider

 


The

~ BIJOU THEATER ~

1896 - 1904

*First Address*

Corner of Main & Circle Streets

Manager........ C. Frederick
Head Usher, T F. Kennedy


The Initial Bijou Theater was located on the corner of Main and Circle Streets and remained in this location
for a period of approximately six years before moving downtown into the Whitney Block facing Main Street.
The theatre at this point in time was devoted to high class Vaudeville stage shows featuring a mixture of specialty
acts such as burlesque comedy and song and dance.

 

(Bijou Advertisement)

The advertisement above was printed in the Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, Tuesday, December 22,1898.
( Ten years after it had originally opened )

At the bottom :

RAY L. ROYCE,
an artist of renown, whose mimicry
and impersonations, though new in
this eastern country have made him
famous all over the Southern and
Western states. He is a wonder and
will delight you. He goes direct
from here to Keith's New York
Theatre.

 




The

~ BIJOU THEATER ~

1904 - 1916

** Second Address **

208 Main Street

The Official Address for the Bijou Theater was 208 Main Street.
This information comes from a Fitchburg business directory of
1908, which gives mention of the only two theaters within the City,
The Bijou & The Cumings Theaters.


By 1904 the Bijou Theater was relocated inside the old Whitney Block facing
Main Street, being just around the corner from this sign facing Prichard Street.
The entry to the Bijou was via Prichard Street, just out of view but to the right
of this postcard. Upon entry a flight of stairs took one to the second floor were
the theater was located.

(Bijou Theatre Sign)

 

divider

 

~ WHITNEY'S OPERA HOUSE ~

Owner - Andrew Whitney

Managers
1884 ............... Fred A. Currier
1888 ............... John W. Ogden
1890 ................ Chas H. Dunn
1897 - 1902 ... John R. Oldfield

It was originally known as the " Whitney Opera House " but as Vaudeville came to the stage
it eventually took on the new name in 1904. The Opera House was built by Andrew Whitney
who managed it for the first three years. In 1884 he turned the management over to Fred A.
Currier who had been acting as treasurer, he managed the theater for another three years
before taking up the position as postmaster in Fitchburg. In turn John W. Ogden was appointed
as the new manager having been connected with the house for several years. By 1902 it was
managed by John R. Oldfield.

Andrew Whitney was
also made a director of the " Fitchburg and Ashby Street Railroad " in 1890

The Whitney Opera House takes its place in history for being the first venue opened
in Fitchburg as a place of public entertainment opening on October 20, 1881.

Andrew Whitney: Born on the 28th of February, 1826 in Ashby, Middlesex, MA.
Occupation: 1850 Professor of Music.


One of Andrew Whitney's works for 1856, played by the Fitchburg Cornet Band
and published by Andrew Whitney, 132 Main Street.
can be found in the link below.

The above link is made possible by the Territorial Kansas Online web site.


The handbill for the Concert ( above ) performed at City Hall ( June 5, 1856 )
by the Glee Class and assisted by the Fitchburg Cornet Band,
composed and published by Andrew Whitney
can also be found in the link below.



The above link is made possible by the Territorial Kansas Online web site.


~ Rollstone Polka ~
Written by Andrew Whitney
In the link below a picture of the old Fitchburg Hotel is featured on the cover of Andrew Whitney's sheet music.

NOTE - the image can be enlarged once the page opens !



The above link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.

.... more to follow on Andrew Whitney.



(1885 Whitney Block sketch)

Above - Year 1885.
A sketch of the " Whitney Opera House " facing Main Street as seen in the March edition of The Bay State monthly.


In a rare photo below -
" The Whitney Opera House " can be seen before 1885 - well before the change of name in 1904 to the Bijou Theater.
It is on the right hand side facing Main Street just a little further down from the corner of Prichard Street, in the image
from the link below it is the building with the taller white facade.

Note - the image can be enlarged once the page opens !

Click below for this rare photo

The entry is by a single door on Prichard Street " not visible in the link above ".
It is however visible in one of the links below to the New Whitney Block ( ** )

The above link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.
The photo is certainly a Credit to all the hard work over Many Years of
Collecting and an even harder task of having to collate the material.
~ Most of which has been carried out on a Voluntary Basis over many years ~



~ WHITNEY'S OPERA HOUSE ~

1882

Featured below is one of the early advertisements for Whitney's Opera House printed by the Fitchburg
Daily Sentinel, January 3, 1882 - a little over two months after the Opera House opened its doors to
the public back on the 20th of October, 1881.


(Whitney's Opera House - 1882)

Above
George S. Knight ( George Sloan ) and his wife Sophie ( Sophie Worrell ) in the drama play
" Baron Rudolph "
George Knight and his wife starred together in " Otto " which came well before " Baron Rudolph " and
a few years later they went on to obtain considerable success starring in " Over the Garden Wall ".

Sophie Worrell of the famous Worrell Sisters together with Irene and Jennie made their debut in
1858 at the Metropolitan Theater in San Francisco and in 1866 arrived in New York for their first
appearance at Wood's Theater in the burlesque known as " Elves." The family managed the Worrell
Sisters' New York Theater from 1867 until 1869.




~ WHITNEY'S OPERA HOUSE ~

1889

This advertisement was placed in the The Sentinel newspaper on Wednesday April 17, 1889.



~ MARGARET MATHER ~
Findlayson

(Margaret Mather Advertisement 1889)

Margaret Mather ( 1859-1898 )

Canadian born Margaret Mather Findlayson became one of the world's leading Shakespearean actresses during the
late 1880's having been famed on many stages for playing Juliet, Rosalind, Lady MacBeth, Imogene and Cymbelind.
In November of 1897 she presented " Cymbelind " to a packed house at the Jacques Opera House in Waterbury,CT
built in 1893.

Another famous actress of this era who also performed in Fitchburg at the Whalom Playhouse and the Cumings Theatre
was the well known Katherine Rober and company, who in February of 1898 performed at the Jaques Opera House, CT.

A good early image of Katherine Rober can be seen on the site below
in an early Empire Theatre program ( Providence RI )

Click below to view this image



The above link is made possible by the Forum dot com website,
which features an Excellent collection " for sale " of International Arts, Antiques and Collectibles.

Although being born in poverty Margaret Mather rose to become one of the most successful actresses of her time touring
the U.S. and Canada. Suffering from a chronic illness, she died as dramatically as she lived - on stage during a performance.
Her last performance was at the Burlew's Opera House in Charleston, West Virginia - built by Noyes Burlew in 1892 on Capitol Street.




~ WHITNEY'S OPERA HOUSE ~

1890

MANAGER, Chas H. Dunn.

In 1890 Frederick Bryton returned in a new play " JIM " a four act comedy-drama by E. E. Rose. Floy Cromwell and
her company commence a week's engagement on Nov. 10. Mr Bryton was at the Opera House last season in the
strong emotional drama of " Forgiven " which drew a large house, His new play is spoken of in high terms by the
New York critics, and, judging by the reports all along the line, the play is drawing large houses.
Note the following repertoire, then judge:
" Storm Beaten "
" Molly Bawn, "
" The Black Spider "
" Little Barefoot "
" Three Marriageable Daughters "
" Neck and Neck "
" Luck of Roaring Camp "

Prices of admission, 15, 25, and 35 cents.


( 1890 Opera House Advertisement )



~ WHITNEY'S OPERA HOUSE ~

1891

MANAGER, Chas H. Dunn.

February 5, 11 and 12 :
For next week Manager Dunn announces one attraction, " Fairies' Well " Thursday evening.
" The Fairies' Well' is a strong Irish play written by W. H. Powers. It deals with a remarkably bright and
refreshing story of Irish life, dealing with the higher elements of peasantry and aristocracy or the Emerald Isle.
It is full of interest, fresh and inspiring, with strong scenes and plenty of novel and original episodes.
The scenery is elaborate and is carried by the company.


( 1891 (January) Opera House Advertisement )



~ WHITNEY'S OPERA HOUSE ~

1891

MANAGER, Chas H. Dunn.

February 21, 26, 27 :
Monday evening the opera house was turned into a variety hall and Lester & Allen's variety company dealt out some of the spices of life.
The program was varied enough to suit the most fastidious and the audience was very liberal in applause. The artists were all good in their
respective roles and, although a few inevitable chestnuts were visible, the entertainment was first. Paul Kauvar a strong and brilliant French
drama is the attraction for Thursday evening. The piece is a vivid and realistic story of the reign of terror in France, and several of the scenes
and situations are the strongest ever made known on any stage. There is a guillotine tableau introduced as a dream, a mob scene and several
striking and thrilling situations. Friday evening the beautiful war play" A Red Rebel " holds the fort. As usual a noble, beautiful Southern girl is
loved and reciprocates. Capt. Mason a Union officer is the lover. Her patriotism, however, makes his uniform unbearable in her eyes, it is at
about the close of the war in 1864, and Mason, on leave, finds himself at the manor-house, near Richmond. Clairette has a cousin who is bitterly
jealous of the love which his keen instinct tells him exists between the young couple. To rid the house of Mason's presence, he sends word to
Clairette's brother, an officer in the Confederate army, that an Union officer is at the house and paying attention to his sister. The troops soon
come on the scene and a thrilling climax is reached when Mason is discovered. In Libby Prison, the great revolving scene, are shown prisoners
of war, and Col. Mason preparing to effect his escape through the tunnel to the street. This is realistically achieved, and the whole scene
revolves in less than six seconds.



( 1891 (February) Opera House Advertisement )



~ WHITNEY'S OPERA HOUSE ~

1892


(Whitney Opera House 1892)

Above are members of the Florence Dramatic Club posing for a photo before they start a new play.
Entitled " Waiting For the Verdict " the play was performed for two weeks at Whitney's Opera House, the photo dated March 17, 1892.

The Cast:
Back Row - Thomas Nutting, M. F. Dunn, George W. Smith, John E. Barnes,
Thomas B. Murphy, J. F. Perault, E. F. Boyle, F. S. Lynch, P. J. Burns and E. J. Driscoll.


Front Row - Andrew Connery (Director), Martin F. Farrell, Miss Katie Phelan,
Maurice Connery, Miss Winnie Welsh, Miss Lizzie Gannon, James J. Phelan and John J. Driscoll.


Thanks to the old local photo company of Snow and McDermott ( Trading on Main Street in this era )
a good record of the Whitney Opera House and history throughout Fitchburg has been retained.



Information and Theater dimensions below for
1901 - 1902

~ WHITNEY'S OPERA HOUSE ~

1901 - 1902

MANAGER, John R. Oldfield.
SEATING CAPACITY, 1,049
Theatre on Second Floor
ENTRY - from Prichard Street
( No. on Prichard St - unknown )
ILLUMINATION, Gas and Electric

~ STAGE DIMENSIONS ~
Width of proscenium opening, ............... 26ft.
Height of proscenium opening, .............. 26ft.
Footlights to back wall, ........................ 28ft.
Curtain line to footlights, ......................... 2ft.
Distance between side walls, ................ 40ft.
Distance between fly girders, ................ 30ft.
Grooves from stage, .............. 16ft (movable)
Stage to rigging loft 35ft, 3 grooves each side
Depth under stage, ................................ 7ft.
Number of traps, ............... 6 located all over.
Grooves can be taken up with fly gallery.
-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-
Printing required:
6 stands, 50 3-sheets, 200 1-sheets, 50-1/2 sheets.
-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

~ HOTELS ~
Johnsonia, $3, single.
American House, $2 single, $1.75 double.
Fitchburg, $1.50 single, ..... $1.25 double.
Balmoral, $1.50 single ...... $1.25 double.
Temperance Hotel.

Johnsonia Hotel, Fitchburg - circa 1940 American House, circa 1905 Fitchburg Hotel, circa 1890
-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

( Thanks to Mr. R. Powers for an image above, and to
Mr. Ron Salters for the lead to the above theatre information )




Traveling forward in time to the early 1900's, a view showing the Bijou Theater,
and as luck has it on a rainy evening all one had to do was to catch the trolley
down to the show, stopping right outside on the corner of Prichard Street.

(1916 West on Main St)



Another very similar postcard taken at around the same era as the card above - can be found below,
it has been taken from where the trolley stands in the above image and gives a very good view of the
Old Whitney Block on the right hand side between the power poles when viewing.

NOTE - the image can be enlarged once the page opens !

Click below to view this image

The above link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.


One actress to perform at the Bijou Theater for many years was Grace Emmett
who played Mrs. Murphy - this painting having hung in the Theater until it closed.

NOTE - the image can be enlarged once the page opens !

Click below to view this image

The above link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.


A newspaper article about the Opera House was published by the Worcester Telegram in 1961
The article published on the 6th of February gives a good summary of the forgotten theater plus an internal view.

Click below to view this article

NOTE - the image can be enlarged once the page opens !

The above link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.


** New Whitney Block

And in another large image a view of the New Whitney Block and the Old Bijou Theater sign above the Hatch Block.
The New Whitney Block is the five level building facing onto Main Street, the entry being around the corner in Prichard Street,
this move being made to free up prime retail space on Main Street and was completed at around the same time as the new
facade was added to the building in the mid 1920's.
The whole building was then re-named the " Whitney-Basset Building " reflecting its original developer and its re-developer.
When the Whitney became the Bijou, the signs were painted on the upper portion of the brick wall on the sides of the building.

Click below to view this image

The above image is also made possible through Italiangerry and photobucket.com


The next image is that of a small ornate piece of cast iron railing first uses at the Bijou Theater.

Click below to view this image

NOTE - click on the image to enlarge !

The above image is made possible through the marvelous collection held by the Fitchburg Historical Society.




1906

Below
The advertisement below should actually reflect the new name of the Bijou Theater, but in this case one can
only presume that the Opera House Cigar Store was so well known they were happy to stay with the name.

On your way down to the Bijou ( old opera house ) for a moving night of drama, comedy or that distinguished guest one could always
stop off at the Opera House Cigar Store for your favorite Havana or pipe tobacco before the show as you passed by Blossom street.

( Tinsley advert 1906 )

The above advertisement for E. W. Tinsley is from 1906 and placed in Harvey's Guide
Harvey's Guide was the Official Street and Steam Railway Time Tables for Fitchburg.



divider

The

Fitchburg Armory

~ Armory Op'ry House ~

Situated on Wallace Avenue the State Armory served many purposes over a large number of years.
It was home to the Fitchburg Fusiliers for many years but also hosted Military and Civic receptions.

(State Armory Fitchburg)

(1883 Armory advert)

During this early period of the 1880's the " Whitney Opera House " was not alone in staging Live Stage
Performances as can be seen above - the Armory Op'ry House was also another venue in Fitchburg.

This evening of "Gaieties " was performed on the 10th of December, 1883 as seen above and produced
by Jerome H. Cargill, of New York City. It was a melodrama called - " Only a Farmer's Daughter "

A poster for that evening may be seen below

Click below to view the image

The above image is made possible through the marvelous collection held by the Fitchburg Historical Society.


( The Armory 1900 )

Above
The Forty-Fifth Annual Concert and Ball of 1900.
This certainly gives an idea of how long The Armory Op'ry House had been in use.



divider

The

~ Johnsonian Building ~

524 Main Street

Established in 1898 as one of Fitchburg's leading Hotels
it today remains one of the building that has been saved and restored.
Today the condominium with penthouse on the upper floor are a lasting reminder of years gone by.



(Johnsonia Building)


The Johnsonia Hotel formed one of the most famous landmark within Fitchburg, it was also
a venue for many Stage and Concert performances over many years, it was used for Gala
evenings and Grand functions serving as the number one place to be seen in high society.

The building was constructed in memory of Iver Johnson by his widow Mary Elizabeth ( Speirs )

Iver Johnson was well known throughout the Unites States for his Cycle and Firearms Business.
The bicycle brand-name was known as the " Truss Bridge " while many of his firearms carried
the " Hammer " brand, although many others were used over a very long manufacturing period.
One of note was the famous " Hammer the Hammer " brand introduced sometime after 1908.

The first excavation work took place in 1896 by the firm of Terrell and French ( a Fitchburg based
company ) with completion of building finished by 1898, the facade features Indiana sandstone.
The architectural style follows the Italian Renaissance period with rounded window frames on the
top level which also features a splendid Ballroom with an 18 foot highly decorated ornate ceiling.
During the past few years the Johnsonia building has recently had a transformation with a number
of new luxury condominium's being built on the mid levels with the office space still at street level.
One shop at street level many years ago was used as the outlet for the Iver Johnson Company at
this stage selling firearms & ammunition with the main manufactory being located at 136 River St.
An outlet for the cycle business was located at 99 Chambers St, New York with another in Boston.

The Grandeur of the Ballroom now over one hundred years old and fully restored to its former glory
is regarded to be one of the finest to be found in Worcester, it now includes a restaurant of equal
grandness to compliment the ballroom and the quality of building throughout this famous landmark.
After a long association in Fitchburg starting in 1894 and run by his two sons, eventually in 1975
the heirs of Iver Johnson sold the Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works forming an end to this history.

~ Iver Johnson ( 1841 - 1895 ) ~

(Johnsonia Staircase)

The Johnsonia Staircase - A work of art in cast iron and walnut
One can imagine the patrons of long ago climbing this staircase on their way to one of the Gala
evenings in the Grand Ballroom - the girls in flowing dresses and the gents in tails and top hats.

 

divider

 

The

~ CUMINGS THEATER ~

25 Blossom Street

Opened ..................... 1898
Closed ...... October, 1955

*Owners & Lessees
Bijou Amuse. Co., Mgrs.
Manager 1900 ........... Geo. E. Sanderson
Manager 1901 - 1902 .... Edgar La Nyon.
Wallace & Henocksburg, Lessees - 1907.
Manager 1908 ................. F. A. Olmstead.
Owner ..... 1931 - 1955, Michael Fasano.

(1920's Cumings Theater image)

The " Gay Debutant " was the first performance at the Cumings Theater on November 17, 1899.
~ A Grand Concert was performed by John Philip Sousa and his band at the Theater on the evening of Friday - January 17, 1902 ~

* The last owner of the Cumings Theater was Michael Fasano who was a respected photographer in the City of
Fitchburg, after retiring from photography in 1931 he bought and ran the theater for a period of 25 years until
finally closing in October of 1955.

According to the Fitchburg Sentinel:
This Theater was up for auction on the 16th Sep, 1957,
BRICK BUILDING Known as the CUMINGS THEATRE
With Approximately 7723 SQ Ft. Land Blossom St,
Fitchburg, Mass - Wednesday, September - 18th at 1PM.

A former Manager at some stage during the late 20's and early 30's for the
Cumings Theater was J. B. Swafford. ( Fitchburg Sentinel, May 6, 1936 )

The Cumings featured on one of their early programs ( Dec. 17th and 18th, 1900 )
the Oriental Opera
" EGYPTA "
The Wondrous Story of the Nile - written by William D. Cheney in 1893.

Another play " ASHBY 4 CORNERS " was performed at the Cumings on the 9th of February, 1917.

The middle 40's saw " THE SONG OF BERNADETTE " starring William Eythe, Charles Bickford, Vincent Price and Lee J, Cobb.


The Age of this particular Theater would never be in question - due to the Fitchburg Historical Society holding some of the original 1899 Theater programs.
Including a Vol. 1, No.7 of Dec.18, 1899 program.



Information and Theater dimensions below
for 1901 - 1902.

~ CUMINGS THEATER ~

1901 - 1902

Manager, Edgar La Nyon.
~ SEATING CAPACITY ~
Orchestra 432
Balcony 516
Gallery 400

~ Prices ~
Orchestra $1, Balcony 75c., Gallery 25c., Admission 50c.
Theatre on ground floor
ILLUMINATION, Electricity and Gas, Voltage 104V.
Orchestra leader ....G A. Patz.
Number in Orchestra ......... 6.
Electrician ........ S J. Haskell.
Scenic artist ........ A A. Voltz.
Stage carpenter ...A. Bingham.

~ STAGE DIMENSIONS ~
Width of proscenium opening, ............... 31ft.
Height of proscenium opening, .............. 30ft.
Depth, footlights to back wall, .............. 35ft.
Curtain line to footlights, ....................... 32ft.
Distance between side walls, ............... 77ft.
Distance between fly girders, ............... 46ft.
Height to rigging loft, ............................60ft
Depth under stage, .......................... 7 1/2ft.
Number of traps, ............. 4, center and side.
No grooves.
-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-
Printing required:
7 stands, 50 3-sheets, 150 1-sheets, 150-1/2 sheets.
-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-
~ HOTELS ~
Johnsonia, $3, single.
American House, $2 single, $1.75 double.
Fitchburg, $1.50 single, ..... $1.25 double.
Balmoral, $1.50 single, ...... $1.25 double.
Temperance Hotel.
-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

( Thanks to Mr. Ron Salters for the lead to the above information )



~ 1906 at the Cumings ~

For the month of March

The advertisement below was printed in " Harvey's Guide " which was at that time the Official Street and Steam Railway Time Table for Fitchburg.
( published monthly )


(1906 Cumings Theater Advert)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Metzke, Melbourne - Australia.

Of interest in the advertisement above is the musical " Little Johhnie Jones "
It should actually be " Johnny " for this small advertisement as simple as it may be lets one trace the footsteps of George M. Cohan.
Born July 3, 1878 in Providence, Rhode Island - George M. Cohan would later in life go on to be one of the Biggest and most
Popular names on Broadway with many other achievements throughout his life both on and off Broadway, until his death in 1942.


(Cohan-Comedian R/C)

His first Broadway success was " Little Johnny Jones " back in 1904.
The musical was famous for songs like " I'm a Yankee Doodle Boy " and " Give My Regards To Broadway "
In 1906 he was also to bring to stage another show called " Forty-five Minutes from Broadway " and by 1909 he was known as ' The Man who Owned Broadway ' -
by 1911 he had opened his own theater " Cohan's Theater " on the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street and was regarded as the man who Truly did own Broadway.
George M. Cohan was well known in Massachusetts as he travelled to the town of North Brookfield situated in Worcester County to stay with his grandparents on
many occasions. In 1934 both George M. Cohan and a former town resident of North Brookfield ' Connie Mack ' staged a performance of " Ah, Wilderness " with the
original New York cast & crew directed by George Cohan.

(1906 Cumings Theater Advert)

George M. Cohan.


More to follow on George M. Cohan - soon...



~ 1907 at the Cumings ~

In 1907 a famous actor by the name of Thomas Jefferson played " Rip Van Winkle " at the Cumings Theatre.
The play was previously staged back in 1905 at the Wallack's Theatre in New York by the same actor, with
Washington Irving following it up with the book of the same name published late in 1907.

Click below for a look at this broadside featured on " the forum On Line Antiques Mall "


The above link is made possible by the Forum dot com website,
which features an Excellent collection " for sale " of International Arts, Antiques and Collectibles.




~ 1936 at the Cumings ~

Matinee 10c
Evening 15c

Today - Mat and Eve
Canton Gold Dinnerware will be given to Ladies only on a 15c Admission
Absolutely None given to Children'


(1936 Cumings Theater Advert)

During September of 1936


LAST TIME TODAY
" DON'T GAMBLE WITH LOVE " - starring Ann Sothern and Bruce Cabot
" JUST MY LUCK " - starring Charles Ray & English born Anne Grey

MAIN FEATURES - Friday & Saturday
" THE GHOST GOES WEST " Released 1935 - starring ( Robert Donat - Born: Manchester UK, 1905 ) ( Jean Parker - Born: Montana, 1915 )
and Eugene Pallette - Born: Winfield, Kansas 1889 ) - The latter a master of many movies with an Award for " Star on the Walk of Fame ".

" BORDER CABALLERO " starring ( Tim McCoy - Born: Saginaw, Michigan 1891 ) ( Lois January - Born: McAllen, Texas 1912 ) and Ralph Byrd - Born: Dayton, Ohio 1909.

The above program advertisement was from the Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, September, 1936



~ 1940 at the Cumings ~

Bing Crosby in " The Star Maker " was released in August 1939, the Director was Roy Del Ruth.
It was nearly one year before it was shown in Fitchburg at the Cumings, Strand and Lyric Theaters.

(1940 Cumings Theater Advert)

On the same bill was " Bad Little Angel " also released one year earlier, Director - Wilhelm Thiele ( William J.Thiele )



~ 1952 at the Cumings ~

SCARAMOUCHE, released in July of 1952 was seen in August of 52 at the Cumings
Starring Stewart Granger, Eleanor Parker, Janet Leigh, Mel Ferrer, Henry Wilcoxon,
Nina Foch, Richard Anderson, Robert Coote, Lewis Stone and many others.
Prices in 1952, Mat. 25c, Eve. 35c, Children 9c.

( Thanks to Ken mc for the info )

 

divider

The

~ WHALOM THEATER ~

First Established in 1893
~ Later to be known as the Whalom Playhouse ~
Located in Lunenburg although a small part of it crossed the line into Leominster.
This particular Theater was located just a few miles out of Fitchburg.

Whalom Park was run by the Fitchburg & Leominster Street Railway.
Not long after the park was established horse drawn trolleys serviced the park
and as years went by converting to electric, eventually diesel busses took over.

Interesting to note is that the first theater consisted of a totally open-air stage and seating area.
Within a few years with the popularity of this new venue, the stage was replaced with a larger
type this time with the addition of a cover although the seating remained uncovered until 1901

The photo below shows the 1901 Theater now fully covered.

(1901 Whalom Theater image)

It may look small, but it was totally the opposite - ( the seating capacity was 3,000 )
For an Excellent view of the " Rustic " interior of this Summer Theater

Click below



The above link is made possible through " The New Whalom Park Ownership Program "
The photos on the website date back to 1910 and were donated by Charles Kimball.



During the period of 1910 and onwards the theatre had published a program named
' The Whalom Breeze '
on a weekly basis, due to an enterprising venture by the then advertising manager H K. Bennett.

(1910 H. K. Bennett)

H K. Bennett.

Although the publication would serve for only a brief number of years - thanks to it a good record of
past history of plays and people involved in them are now known and recorded for the Whalom Theatre.



Back in the early 1900's the Manager was Charles Van Dyne.

The Master of Ceremonies at the Whalom Playhouse for 25 Years was Guy Palmerton
and the Guy Palmerton Players " Manhattan Players".
Guy Palmerton wound up his last season at the playhouse in 1967.

Among some of the Famous people to appear at the Whalom Playhouse were :
Ethel Barrymore ----- in - " The School for Scandal "
Walter Pigeon ------- in --- " Take Her, She's Mine "
Donald Woods ------ in ------- " For Love or Money "
Evelyn Wyckoff ----- in ----- " The Sound of Music "
Imogene Coca ------ in - " A Rainy Day in Newark "
Herbert Marshall --- in --------- " A Majority of One "
Merv Griffin ---------- in -------------------- " Broadway "
Tab Hunter ----------- in ---------- " The Tender Trap "
Mickey Rooney ---- in ------------ " Tunnel Of Love "

Other well known names included
Stan Kent .............................Tex Beneke
Glenn Miller ...................... Dizzi Gellespi
Guy Lombardo ................ Sauta Finnegan
Peggy Cass ................... Vaughn Monroe
Gloria Swanson .................. Vincent Price
Dana Andrews ................... Jackie Cooper
Henry Morgan ....................... John Payne
Joanne Dru ......................... Betty Garrett
Franchot Tone ................... Ralph Bellamy
Joan Blondell ........................... Eve Arden
Zazu Pitts ............................ Martha Raye
Patti Page ............................... Mae West
Joan Caulfield ..................... John Forsythe
Gloria Swanson ................. Sandra Church
Cesar Romero ........................ Don Defore

Guy Palmerton opened with " Mrs. Crane Steps Out " featuring Frank Lyon and Peggy Coudray.



~ September, 1910 at The Whalom Playhouse ~

During 1910 the leading woman of the year to be featured
at the playhouse was the famous Prima Donna

Magda Dahl

(Magda Dahl 1910)

Previous to this engagement in 1908 Magda Dahl had performed at the Broadway Theatre in
New York in the operetta " A Waltz Dream " produced by The Inter-State Amusement Co. Inc

In 1918 she played " Amina " in the musical " Sinbad " at the Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway between West 50th & 51st, New York.
Built in 1911 the Winter Garden Theatre is now owned by The Shubert Organization and still open today.
Click below for a direct link to the Magnificent Theaters of The Shubert Organization, including the Winter Garden Theatre





~ 1911 at The Whalom Playhouse ~

During 1911 the Whalom Opera Company staged
" The Wizard Of The Nile "

The music for this comic opera in three acts was by Victor Herbert and the play based upon the book by Harry B. Smith having been written by him back in 1895.
The play marked a very memorable year at Whalom Park Playhouse for the 30 odd members making up the company, part of the cast included - W M. Clifton
Julia Curtiss, Joe Monahan, Marie Horgan, Georgia Campbell, Walter Brower, Chas Bird, Mattie Crofts, Fred Holmes, Harry Hopkins, G. Edwards & J T. Scott.
SCENARIO
Act I. Public square in Alexandria.
Act II. Terrace Roof of the King's Palace.
Act III. Interior of King's Pyramid.

A link to the Theatrical compositions by Victor Herbert
is below

Thanks to Ed Glazier for his informative website.




~ 1920 marked a memorable year at The Whalom Playhouse ~

John Philip Sousa
Born: November 6, 1854 - Died : March 6, 1932
John Philip Sousa known as the " March King " throughout the world, came to the Whalom Playhouse on August 14, 1920.
He is best remembered for the band he formed and the marches he wrote including operettas, waltzes and modern songs
of the era. John Philip Sousa and his band made up of seventy members were to spent a total of 39 years touring as well
as a world wide tour. His instrument maker for many years being the famous company of C. G. Conn of Elkhart, Indiana.

(John Philip Sousa)

John Philip Sousa




Many Many More famous actors were to appear over the history of the Playhouse - including Ginger Rogers.

From the Sentinel :
1913 at Whalom Theater - " Moon Maiden " Last Seasons Favorite Opera produced with Great Success ( July 29, 1913 )
Lando Players at Whalom Theater, Stock Company Will Open Summer Engagement on Monday June Twenty-Sixth ( June 5, 1916 )


A Ginger Rogers Theater Poster can be found here -

Click below

The above link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.



In another Poster " Herbert Marshall " is featured
in " A Majority Of One "

Click below

The above link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.




~ June, 1927 at Whalom Park Theater ~

In June of 1927 the Richard Morgan Players staged " The Patsy " at the Whalom Park Theater.

The musical " Laff That Off " was also previously staged in New York at the
Wallack's Theatre ( 254 West 42nd Street ) back in 1925
later to be known as the Anco Cinema - demolished in 1997.

(1927 Whalom Advertisement)



~ Whalom in 1937 ~

(Whalom Theatre advertisement 1937)

This 1937 advertisement gives it all:
Guy Palmerton
The Manhattan Players
And the familiar logo at the bottom.

As seen above a play written by Dorrance Davis
" Apron Strings "
Standard Reserved Seats - 35c.



~ Whalom Theatre - 1940 ~

September of 1940 bought Noel Coward's play
" Private Lives "
Starring - Ruth Chatterton, Robert Perry, Barry Thomson, Louise Kirtland and Harry E. Lowell.
The play was directed by Frederic Lynwood.




~ Summer Theatre notes for June 23, 1943 ~

Guy Palmerton will operate two playhouses in Massachusetts this summer, the
Little Theatre Playhouse in Worcester and the Lake Whalom Theatre in Fitchburg.
The former will open on June 29 with " Yes, My Darling Daughter. " The same
attraction will be coming to the Lake Whalom Theatre early in July.




~ Lake Whalom Theatre in 1951 ~

In August of 1951 " The Chocolate Soldier " - an operetta in three acts was a feature at the Whalom Park Theater starring Ernest McChesney
He had starred in this revival back in 1947 at the New Century Theater in New York - 932 Seventh Avenue, with a cast including - Keith Andes,
Henry Calvin, Billy Gilbert, Gloria Hamilton, Michael Mann, Frances McCann, Francisco Moncion, Muriel O'Malley and Anna Wiman.

Also in the same month William Bendix starred in
" Detective Story "




~ 1952 ~


BROADWAY comes to the Lake Whalom Playhouse
~ Mae West is featured in this autographed program for the week of August 18, 1952 ~

The Mae West play was " Come On Up " . . . Originally titled - " Ring Twice Tonight "


America's Second Oldest Summer Theatre Established 1893

(Mae West at Whalom Park, August 18, 1952)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mrs. B. Edsall.

 

The above program is a beautiful keepsake in memory of the Lake Whalom Playhouse
and one of the Biggest and Best known Stars on Broadway - Mae West

( Credits go to Mrs. B. Edsall of Fitchburg MA for this Autographed Program )




~ A few from the 1960's era ~

1960
" GOODBYE CHARLIE "
Starring
Eve Arden, Brooks West, Donna Pearson, Frank Rorerts, Charles Welch, Gail Cramer and Michael McAloney.

1963
" STRICTLY DISHONORABLE "
Starring
Cesar Romero, Linda Fields, Lawrence Pressman, Leopold Badia and Walter Flanagan.

1964
" FOR LOVE OR MONEY "
Starring
Genevieve, Donald Woods, Ruth Manning, Janet Fox, Alice Yourman, Leo Lucker, Don Dickenson and Peter Coffin.

1965
" CAMELOT "
Starring
Robert Peterson, Peggy Robbins, Rene Miville, Alexander Clark, Brendan Burke and Bill Story.



( The " Lake Whalom Playhouse " - as it was known was destroyed by fire on the 21st of September, 1975 )

 

divider

The

~ FITCHBURG THEATER ~

698 - 705 Main Street
Opened - February 7, 1929.

Total seating capacity 1751

Owners:
1930 - 1945 Maine and New Hampshire Theaters.
1950 American Theaters Corporation
1955 American Theaters and Daytz Partnership.
Partnership:
1961 Daytz Theatre Enterprises Corporation.
1975 Ben Sack Theaters, Incorporated.

Hopefully this Theater may see a return in the future.

(2007 Fitchburg Theater image)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. R. Powers.

The first manager of the Fitchburg Theater was Mr. Frank W. Hollis 1929 - 1931.
From 1932 a second manager Mr. Edward B. Haley took over and managed the theater until 1953.
Prior to 1932 the doorman was Mr. Lois Herbert Waverly, a former employee of the Lyric Theater.
No money was spared in the decoration of the theatre and carried out by the Maine & New
Hampshire Theatre Corp' and included two large lace tapestries to decorate the auditorium.
As with many theaters of that era large Chandelier's was also installed in the lighting plan.

Established in 1929 the Fitchburg Theater had a seating capacity of 1,751,
1066 orchestra seats and 685 balcony seats, starting with one of the largest
screens in New England eventually having three screens by the time it closed
in the middle 1980's - having been re-opened in 1976 to the mid 1980's by new
owners.
During the early days many Vaudeville shows were also held here and
booked through the RKO ( Radio-Keith-Orpheum ) office 1928 - 1948.

In 1929 a Wurlitzer Pipe Organ " Style 190 " was installed in the Fitchburg Theater.
The style 190 consisted of 2 Manuals - 8 Ranks - 4 Tuned Percussion's - 18 Traps, with a circular console ( Wurlitzer Opus 2,014 )
The Opus number pertains to how many organs were produced at the time of release - in all 44 Style 190 organs were produced.
The Console was sold well before the theater closed and remained in Fitchburg for a good number of years, the wind chests and
pipes remaining at the theater. Due to the renovations as mentioned above it is doubtful that any of these would have remained.
( Current Status of this console is unknown )


Any further information or photos of this Pipe Organ would be welcomed - please post it on the fitchburg-hometown net.



~ Back to 1940 at the Fitchburg Theater ~

Released on July 19, 1940
" South of Pago Pago " hit the Fitchburg screen in August of the same year.

(1940 South of Pago Pago News Advert)

Starring Victor McLaglen, Jon Hall and Frances Farmer.

Frances Farmer would also be remembered in the same year
for the leading role she played in " Flowing Gold " as Linda Chalmers.

Edward Small Co-founded the independent production company Reliance Pictures back in
1932 having a long standing career as a producer starting in 1926 and going through to 1970.



~ On to 1944 at the Fitchburg Theater ~

One of the movies to hit the Fitchburg screen in 1944 was
" The Mummy's Ghost "

(1944 Advert-The Mummy's Ghost)

Starring - Lon Chaney as Kharis, The Mummy
John Carradine
Ramsay Ames
Barton MacLane
George Zucco and Robert Lowery

Ramsay Ames was born in New York 30 March 1919, she went on to play leading rolls in B - movies working for Universal,
and later working at Republic., during the late 40's moving to Spain where she took on different roles in European movies plus
her own television interview show. She returned to the United States in the 60's where she later married Dale Wasserman - a
playwright best remembered for " Man of the Spot ", later to divorce in 1980. Ramsay Ames passed away in Santa Monica,
California on March, 30th - 1998.


An Old Fitchburg Theater Poster can be seen below.

Two movies on the poster
" Penthouse " & " A Chance At Heaven "
were both released in 1933 and were shown in the week of October,29 of the same year.
Interesting to note that there were also five acts of Vaudeville featured on the same poster.

Click below to view this image

This link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.


For a view of who lived on the site before the Theater was built - ( Walter Heywood and William O. Brown )

Walter Heywood by this time was known throughout the United States for the production of Bentwood Furniture
opening a second warehouse in Philadelphia, 1874 ( Market St ) where they also manufactured children's carriages.

Click below to view this image

This link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.


Other early movies at the Fitchburg Theater included :
John Gilbert in " West of Broadway "
Norma Shearer in " Private Lives "
Warner Baxter in " Penthouse "
Richard Arlen in " Hell And High Water "
plus - " Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde "

An Early Stage Show :
" Broadway on Parade " starring Ann Vickers, Irene Dunne, Walter Huston, Conrad Nagel and Edna May Oliver.




~ Christmas of 1950 at the Fitchburg Theater ~


( Credits go to Mr. Jerry Woods of Fitchburg MA for this Outstanding photo below - From Cousin Jimmy )

(Fitchburg Theater Christmas 1950)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. J. Woods.

~ Photo taken Christmas Season of 1950 ~

With the Marquee in full view, and Main street packed with a full evening crowd looking on.
The evening was to celebrate the new D - day movie " Breakthrough " starring John Agar.
On this memorable occasion the 18th Army Band from Fort Devens can be seen
playing outside the Theater, also with a Tank " upper right ", with street decorations
already up in readiness for the 1950 Christmas period plus a brand new movie.

This whole event outside the Theater was organized by members of Fitchburg's
" Military Manpower Committee ". And luckily, the moment was caught on film...

The shops in view :-
Slightly to the right and under the marquee is John's Restaurant and next to that is
John's Fountain Service, the extreme right window was the Fitchburg Optical shop.
On the left of the marquee is the Fitchburg Clock and sales shop,and directly above
the marquee was the Dentist Clinic of Dr. Holmes, very well known for his work as
a school dentist for many years in Fitchburg.



~ Moving on to the 1970's at the Fitchburg Theater ~

Many famous Groups and Singers were to come to the Fitchburg Stage
Among these were:
Merle Haggard / Bonnie Owens - October 1, 1970.
Porter Wagoner / Dolly Parton
George Jones / Tammy Wynette
Loretta Lynn / Wilburn Brothers, etc.
Hank Snow / Freddie Hart

The above shows were all sponsored by the late Gene Laverne of station * WFGL in Fitchburg.
* ( W... Fitchburg, Gardiner, Leominster )

Below
~ For the people who can remember the Hank Snow Concerts ~


(Hank Snow on Fitchburg Stage 1970)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mrs. F. Murdock.

Hank Snow on the Fitchburg Theater stage.

 

(Hank Snow Backstage at Fitchburg 1970)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mrs. F. Murdock.

Hank Snow backstage with station WOTW "DJ" - Bull Goose.
WOTW - W..Otis T. Wingate, the original owner.

( Clarence Eugene Snow ( May 9, 1914 - December 20, 1999 - Nashville )



(Wagonmaster's Backstage at Fitchburg 1970)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mrs. F. Murdock.

Backstage at the Fitchburg with the Porter Wagoner's Band
~ The Wagonmasters ~
Left to Right - Jack Little, Mack McGaha, Ronnie Blackwell and Buck Trent with back to camera.
Mack McGaha played fiddle while Buck Trent was on electric banjo - a man truly ahead of his time !.




Another very well known name to perform
on stage at the Fitchburg Theater was
the late Freddy Fender between June - August 1975.

(Freddy Fender)

Freddy Fender at that time featured " Secret Love "
with "John Penny" giving backing to Lynn Holloway
who had travelled down from Boston for the show.

During the early 1980's and up until today John Penny has run one of the most
successful booking agencies in the New England region as well as being the
major force behind Country music not only of that era but through until today.
He does have a Web presence.


Freddy Fender passed away on the 14th of October 2006, aged 69.
~ His songs and music talent will linger on Forever ~



Credit for the above information & Hank Snow photos: Goes to Flo Murdock of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Flo Murdock worked at WOTW in Nashua, NH. As well as secretary for John Penny for a
number of years, the photos were taken by her as she attended the concerts in Fitchburg.




~ 1976 ~

By 1976 the Marquee had been replaced by a simple sign and the Theater now takes on a different look.
This image was taken as the Bicentennial parade passed by with the Fitchburg Historical Society float in
the foreground, the taller building on the left housing the Saxon Theater which by this time had been closed.

Click below to view this image

This link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.

 



~ 1980 ~

On April 4th, 1980 Johnny Winter came to the stage with songs from his latest release " Raisin Cain "
along with two new band members - Jon Paris on bass and Bobby Torello on drums.

~ Johnny Winter is still singing the Blues today ~

To check out the latest plus schedules Click below

CLICK HERE

(Johnny Winter 2007)

The above link is made possible through Sean McDevitt of livebluesworld.com
Sean McDevitt hosts the Johnny Winter Blog
~ An Excellent source for up to date information and photos ~

 

 

divider

The

~ LYRIC / SAXON THEATER ~

1913 .......... 1975
729 Main Street

Total seating capacity 1000
Manager in the 1940's - Jack Cackett

Owners:
Lyric ............................. 1928 Public Theaters Corp.
1930 .............. Maine & New Hampshire Theaters.
1940 ..... 1950 Fred E. Leiberman Circuit - Boston.
1951 ............................ 1975 Ben Sack Theatres, Inc.
( Renamed the Saxon by Ben Sack in 1951-52 )

Originally known as the the " LYRIC Theater "




~ 1928 at the Lyric Theater ~


(Saxon Theatre 1950)

( Credits go to Mr. Kim Goodwin of Fitchburg MA for this 1928 Lyric Advert )

The above advert comes from the Sentinel Newspaper - March 20, 1928.

Apart from the main play above " Sailors Wives " a Drama / Romance - and a silent starring Mary Astor & Lloyd Hughes
which was released in late January, 1928., another Famous Troupe of that era appears at the bottom of this advertisement

~ KINKAID KILTIES ~
" Original Lads and Lasses From the Highlands "

More to come on this Troupe soon...

But for now a link below to another Lyric Theatre in Indiana with the Kinkaid Kilties up on the marquee
dated at around the 1928 period to the very early 30's.

Click below

Kinkaid Kilties in Indiana


~ Christmas of 1950 ~

( Credits go to Mr. Jerry Woods of Fitchburg MA for this Outstanding photo below - from Cousin Jimmy )

(Saxon Theatre 1950)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. J. Woods.

~ Photo taken - Christmas Season of 1950 ~

As with the Fitchburg Theater photo featured above this photo is now taken at street level looking up
towards the Saxon Theater. One can now get a perspective as to how close both theaters were to
each other " nearly next door to each other ", with a drug store separating them only - the person
photographing the band probably never realizing that they had caught both Theaters in one shot.

The Movie playing at the Saxon - Christmas of 1950 was
" Devil's Doorway "
the movie a fine Hollywood western was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
and starred
Robert Taylor as Lance Poole ( Broken Lance )
&
Louis Calhern as Verne Coolan.



~ Thanks to Mark & The Boys on the Fitchburg Net ~


Below
A closer look at that Triangular Marquee by night.

(Saxon Marquee 1950)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. J. Woods.




Thanks to Mark Chester of PA for the information below :-

The Lyric Theater opened a short time after 1913 when the Quinlan Building had been completed.
It was later to be renamed the Saxon as Ben Sack added it to his ever growing Empire of Theaters.
The Saxon comprised of a single screen with seating for 1000, it had retained a triangular marquee
from the Lyric days. After the Sack Twin Cinemas opened at "Searstown" around 1970, the Saxon
became the Estre Cinema, before closing for ever in the mid 1970's, and demolished in early 1978.

A view of the Saxon Theater around the early 1960's period can be seen by clicking below.
~ The Theatre is the red brick building to the far right of the photo ~

The above link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.


~ 1963 ~

( Credits go to Mr. Kim Goodwin of Fitchburg MA for this Outstanding photo below )

(Saxon Theatre 1963)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. K. Goodwin.

As this beauty Queen float travels by on Main Street a view of the Saxon Theater
is shown in the background. One will note that the Saxon sign has now been located
well above the marquee compared to the 1950 photos above. The movie showing at
this stage in time was " A Gathering Of Eagles " starring Rock Hudson , Rod Taylor,
Mary Peach and Barry Sullivan. The release date of the movie was June 21, 1963.
The 1962 movie - " The Longest Day " was also showing at the Saxon at this time
starring Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Richard Burton, Sean Connery and Red Buttons.

Opposite and a little further down Main Street is the old Fitchburg Sentinel building
and beyond is the Calvinistic Congregational Church Spire with the Clock and Bell.



~ 1964 ~

( Credits go to Mr. Kim Goodwin of Fitchburg MA for this Outstanding photo below )

(Saxon Theatre 1964)
Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. K. Goodwin.

In this Anniversary parade of 1964 a good shot of the Saxon Theater is shown.
Numerous other buildings are also featured including the Fitchburg Baptist
Church seen in the distance with City Hall shown nearly opposite the theater.
The top red banner strung across Main Street reads " Home of Weyerhaeuser
Co. " formally Crocker Burbank & Co. Ass'n - Founded 1876. At the bottom is
a banner for " Barkley & Dexter Inc ", Formally Barkley & Dexter Labs, Inc, an
automation firm that used to be located in the Cleghorn district of Fitchburg.
The movie showing at this time was " Kisses For My President " Starring
Fred MacMurray and Polly Bergen.

The Sound Of Music screened at the Saxon on the 3rd of November, 1965 for a 12 week + period.

 

divider

The

~ SHEA'S THEATER ~

1929 - 1945
9 Day Street
Bijou Amuse. Co., Mgrs.

Total seating capacity 900


Owners:
Patrick T. Shea.
Operated by Alphonse A. Couture
1936 - 1945 Maine and New Hampshire Theaters.

Later known as the " GEM Theater "

(1920's Shea's Theatre)

~ A 1920's view looking down Day Street from Main Street ~

The original Shea's Theater was established by Patrick T. Shea.
He was also the acting Postmaster for the City in both 1935 and 1939, and a candidate for Mayor back in 1929.
On the right hand corner stood Murphy's Drug Store, and on the opposite corner stood Schulte Cigars a Tobacconist.

The Hotel Raymond with the sign above was most popular with the lunch time crowd of shoppers & office workers
and featured a good dining room and bar used by many travelers staying in and on their way through Fitchburg.

A view of the Shea's Theater sign can be seen looking down Day Street.
~ Second vertical sign down on the right of Day Street ~

Click below to view a color image of this card

The above link is made possible by Ken Jones of Fitchburg,
who features the image on his " John Chittick " webpage.



A small view of the Shea's Marquee can just be seen in the middle L/H side
of this image looking down Day Street as this 4th of July Parade is taking place.

~ Worthy of note also is the Raymond Hotel on the corner, a token is a little further down this page ~

The time frame for the photo in the link below would be the 4th of July , 1936 due
to the movie on the marquee reading " Frisco Kid " which was released on the 30th
of November, 1935 and starred James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ricardo Cortez,
Lili Damita, Donald Woods plus many more in the large cast. ( by Warner Bros. )

Click below to view this image

This link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.



~ A look back to 1920 ~

(Shea's Theater 1920 Advertisement)

In November, 1920 " The Hope " a black and white ( silent ) was screened at Shea's Theater,
Starring Ruth Stonehouse, Marguerite De La Motte, Frank Elliot and Jack Mulhall as Harold, Lord Ingestre.
Ruth Stonehouse having a long and busy career both in vaudeville and silent movies through 1911 to 1928,
a Talented Actress she was also a writer and director in her distinguished career. The movie was released
in September, 1920 being a Metro Pictures Corporation production.

Second on the bill
" Edgar's Sunday Courtship " was released in August, 1920 - another black and white ( silent ) it starred :
Edward Peil Jr, Cordelia Callahan, Nick Cogley, Marie Dunn, Kenneth Earl plus four more in this small cast.


 

~ And in 1917 ~

One Star from this period who screened at the Shea's Theater was Irene Castle in the movie " PATRIA "
( The Fitchburg Daily Sentinel - Wednesday, 17 January 1917 - features a small write up about this movie )
The Shea's Theater screened the movie every Wednesday & Thursday after it was nearly banned in Boston.

Irene Castle and her husband Vernon were the leaders in ballroom dancing for this period in time, they were to later
open many dance studios in and around the Central New York area, many other famous dancers were to follow in
future years all being former students from many of these studios.

Irene Castle
Date of Birth - 17 April, 1893 - Rochelle, New York
Date of Death - 25 January, 1969 - Eureka Springs, Arkansas.



 

~ 1915 & 1916 ~

(Hazel Dawn - 1910)

Hazel Dawn,
in or around the 1910 Era.

The well known and accomplished actress Hazel Dawn starred at the Shea's Theater on Thursday 25th & 26th of November 1915
playing the part of " Dulcie Larendie " in the play " The Masqueraders " and shortly after in April ( 28th & 29th ) of 1916 she starred
in the play " The Saleslady " playing the leading role of " Helen "

Hazel Dawn ( 1891-1988 ) born in Utah began her early stage career in London in 1909 playing in the many music halls after an education in Wales.
Late in 1910 she had returned and quickly made her Broadway debut in 1911 when she starred in " The Pink Lady " which was an overwhelming
success on Broadway becoming the most popular for the year of 1911. " The Pink Lady " went on to play for a total of three years on Broadway
also bringing back a revival in women's fashion colors.

Hazel Dawn would go on to feature in the plays, musicals & movies below

The musical ............... " The Little Cafe " - 1913
The musical ................. " The Debutante" - 1914
** The musical ............. " The Century Girl " - 1916 **
The play ............. " Up in Mabel's Room " - 1919
The play ................... " The Demi-Virgin " - 1921
The play .......... " Getting Gertie's Garter " - 1921
The musical ................ " Nifties of 1923 " - 1923
The musical ...................... " Keep Kool " - 1924
The musical ... " The Great Temptations " - 1926
The play ........................ " Wonder Boy " - 1931
The movie ............................. " Margie " - 1946
The musical ................. " My Romance " - 1948

** " The Century Girl " of 1916 was a non-Follies musical review presented by Charles Dillingham and Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. **

A Plays & Players program featuring Hazel Dawn in " The Debutante "
may be seen by clicking the link below.

The above link is made possible by the Forum dot com website,
which features an Excellent collection " for sale " of International Arts, Antiques and Collectibles.




Next - a non theater item

(Hotel Raymond Trading Token)

A mention of the Hotel Raymond is made at the top of this segment.
Although this is not a theater item, it has a good home on this page.
It is a trading token - one of
many to be issued by the hotel, its value is 10c.
The wording on the back:
Good for 10c in trade.
Meet your friends at the Hotel Raymond.
J. Raymond Dwyer, Prop. Fitchburg, Mass.

Another one of these tokens in the series can be seen below

This link is made possible by the Fitchburg Historical Society.

 

divider

The

~ STRAND THEATER ~

1931 - 1950
80 Daniels Street

Total seating capacity 793

Owners:
Alphonse A. Couture
1940 Maine and New Hampshire Theaters.
1950 American Theaters Corporation.
After the closure the property was purchased in 1958 by the Cleghorn Realty Trust Company.

The Strand Theater was located in the Cleghorn District of Fitchburg.
It was sold in 1958 to private interests for $65.000
The property extended from 96 to 110 Cleghorn Street and from 74 to 88 Daniels Street being
one of the largest business and apartment blocks in the Cleghorn section of the City at this time.
The Entrance to the Strand Theater being in the middle of this commercial block on Daniels Street.
In 1961 the Strand plus part of the adjoining areas were converted into a twenty six lane Bowling Alley.
Better known as " Palace Lanes " - in Cleghorn Square.

~ No Image Available ~
at this stage.

 

(Strand Theatre advert - 1933)

Above
an old advertisement for the Strand Theater from the
Fitchburg Sentinel, Wednesday, January 30, 1933

 

divider

The

~ UNIVERSAL THEATER ~

1914 - 1952
Cofman Block
105 - 137 Main Street
Elm Amuse. Co., Mgrs.

Total seating capacity 827

Owner:
Benjamin J. Cofman

Alphonse A. Couture former owner of the Strand
Theater operated the Universal & Gem Theaters for many years.
He was a veteran of WWI and served with the 48th Aerial Squadron in France

The Universal was later to be taken over by Loew's E. M. Theaters, Inc.


(Universal Theatre info)

 

~ Many thanks go to the Estey Organ Company History Web Site for this information ~

For people interested in the History of the Estey Organ Company - An Excellent History and Research site

Click Below

Below
A Universal Theatre Estey Organ look-alike.

~ Special Thanks go to Mr. Phil Stimmel from the Web Site above ~

The image below Best reflects the Organ Console from
the Universal Theatre which is no longer in existence.
It is an Estey electric detached theatre - type of around
the same vintage as the one used in the Universal Theatre.

(1926 Estley Organ)

 


~ 1921 at the UNIVERSAL ~

March 7

Tonight and all this week
Twice Daily 2.15 PM - 3.15 PM
A SCREEN MIRACLE
~ Kismet ~
By Edward Knoblock
Writer : Charles E. Whittaker

The 1920 play " Kismet " came to the Universal as early as 1921 having been released on November 14, 1920.
Directed by Louis J. Gasnier it starred Otis Skinner, Rosemary Theby, Elinor Fair plus another twenty in the cast.



~ The UNIVERSAL THEATER 1931 ~

(Universal Theatre 1931)

On the morning of February 4, 1931 the Universal's Lobby and Interior of the Playhouse is badly damaged.
Part story below /-

Nine Stores, Central Bowling Alleys, Pool Room Wrecked, Three Fireman Are Overcome
Worst Blaze In City In Many Years Ruins Building Owned By Cofman Estate: Probably
Started In Furnace Room: Lobby and Interior of Playhouse Damaged: All Apparatus and
All Platoons Called Out: Owner Will Rebuild
------------------------------

~ The Universal was rebuilt and played an important role along with the other Theaters in Fitchburg ~

 

divider

The

~ MAJESTIC THEATER ~

1910 - 1945

Owner:
Loew's E. M. Theaters, Inc.


(Majestic Theatre advert - 1923)

Fitchburg Sentinel, Wednesday, October 3, 1923.
Tonight and Thursday
ALWAYS A GOOD COMEDY
Prices Always the Same
10c and 17c, tax paid.

A news article dated September 23, 1918 tells that A Wurlitzer Organ is now installed at this Theater.
( No reference to a Model No. or Opus No. is given )

A further article dated May 17, 1945 gives details of The Fitchburg Sportmens Club Inc. and the shooting range which occupied the lower level of the theater in
the basement,also mentioning that the razing of the upper floors will not necessitate the moving of the Sportmen club or occupants of stores on the street level.
From other news articles the shooting range seems to have operated from the middle 1940's through until late in 1947.

 



In Total, Fitchburg had a Total of Ten Theaters spanning the period 1880 to the mid 1980's.

Bijou Theater - first address - Corner Circle and Main Streets - ( Established - 1898 / No longer )

Bijou Theater - second address - Main Street - ( Established - 1904 / No longer )

Cumings Theater - 25 Blossom Street - ( Established - 1898 / No longer )

Fitchburg Theater - 715 Main Street - ( Opened - February 7, 1929 / Closed )

Finnish Theater - " Siama Theater " - 811 Main Street - ( No longer )

The Whalom Playhouse - ( Established - 1893 / No longer )

Majestic - Theater - Main Street ( Established - 1910 / No longer )

Shea's Theater - later the " Gem " - 9 Day Street - ( Established 1929 by Patrick T. Shea / No longer )

Strand Theater - 80 Daniels St, Cleghorn Square - ( Established - 1931 / No longer )

Lyric / Saxon Theater - 729 Main Street - ( Lyric Established - 1913 / No longer )

Universal Theater - 105 Main Street - ( Established - 1914 / No longer ) Initial Owner - Benjamin J. Cofman.

The above information links ( * ) are made possible through the " Cinema Treasures " website
NOTE: Information is Third Party.

Another important group on Stage was the " High Tor Summer Theater " - ( 1940 - 1985 )

This page would not be complete without the mention of two other venues for
Plays and Gala Evenings all held during the late 1880's and early 1900's.

These were :

The Wallace Hall and The Fitchburg Town Hall.

By far, the biggest and most renowned Grand Concerts to be hosted at City Hall would be by John Philip Sousa and his band - on the following dates:
Saturday evening - March 12, 1898
Friday evening - May 12, 1899
Saturday evening - November 16, 1912




~ Taking Center Stage Today ~

divider

 

~ The Stratton Players ~

Website - can be found below



The Stratton Players forms another important part of Theater History within Fitchburg and Massachusetts.
Firstly formed in 1925, it went through the war years to later emerge with its own Theater in 1939.
Today, it can by stated that it is now one of the Oldest Community Theaters in the United States and
also one of the very few to retain its own Theater.



divider

~ Drawbridge Puppet Theater ~

Website - can be found below



No Summary
JUST HAVE A LOOK
It's The Best Money Can Buy
~ Sometimes best things come last just for a Surprise ~

A must see at - 1335 Massachusetts Avenue
( Rte 2A )
L U N E N B U R G, MA 01462.

 

divider

Looking For That Old Theatre that's still open today......
links below

The Coolidge Corner Theatre ... The Coolidge Corner Theatre - 290 Harvard St, Brookline MA - 02446.
The Somerville Theatre ....... The Somerville Theatre - 55 Davis Square, Somerville MA - 02144.
The Capitol Theatre ..................... The Capitol Theatre - 204 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington MA - 02474.
The Hippodrome Theater ........ The Hippodrome Theater - 1700 Main Street, Springfield MA - 01103

and

A Excellent website giving the History of the 14 Theaters in Somerville MA
Entitled
" Lost Theaters of Somerville "

CLICK HERE

~ Somerville also had a " Strand " Theater ~



CREDITS

~ A Large Credit goes to Mr. Ray Powers of Fitchburg MA, for his help with some of the Theater photos above ~

NOTE - All Images are Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. R. Powers.

~ Credit for a great deal of information to do with this theater page goes to Mr. Mark S. Chester of Phoenixville, PA. - his help has been invaluable in telling the true story ~
~ A Credit goes to Mr. Ken Jones of Fitchburg for posting two old post cards to his " John Chittick " web site which are uses on this site in a B & W format - with links to the Originals. ~
~ Special words of Credit go to Mr. Edward C. McManus of Fitchburg MA. & Mr. Robert Boucher of California for all their help and assistance with the reference side of this webpage ~
~ References and Credits go to The Fitchburg Historical Society for their online images which together tell the Marvelous History of this Unique City and its Theaters ~
~ A credit goes to Mr. Jerry Woods of Fitchburg for his two photos ( Fitchburg Theater & Saxon Theater ( December 1950 ) ... These unique photos featuring Both Marquee's and the Fort Devens Army Band ~
NOTE - All Images are Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. J. Woods.

~ A credit goes to Mr. Kim Goodwin of Fitchburg for two photos ( Saxon Theater of 1963 & 1964 ) ... These unique photos feature the Saxon Theater caught while different parades are passing by ~
NOTE - All Images are Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mr. K. Goodwin.

~ Credit goes to Mrs. Flo Murdock of Little Rock, Arkansas. - for Fitchburg memories and photos, re /- Hank Snow, Porter Wagoner & Freddy Fender and all who appeared on the Fitchburg Theater Stage ~
NOTE - All Images are Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mrs. F. Murdock.

~ A Credit goes to Mr. Phil Stimmel - from the Estey Organ Company History Web Site ... for the Estey Organ Console / a look-alike image featured on the Universal Theatre segment ~
~ A credit goes to Mrs B. Edsall of Fitchburg - for a 1952 Lake Whalom Playhouse program autographed by Mae West, bringing back a Famous Star of Whalom Theater ~
NOTE - All Images are Copyright © 2007 - 2014, Mrs. B. Edsall.

~ For the music on this site - Credits go to Mr. Bud Black for many hard hours of work in bringing back this 1910 " Ragtime " tune - ( Knockout Drops by Henri Klickman 1910 ) ~

 




A little about the music you are listening to,
or Should be - turn your volume up a shade.

Delta Queen & Bud Black

Bud Black and the Paddle Steamer " Delta Queen " as seen above.

Bud Black spent thirteen years aboard the Delta Queen as she plied the waters of the Mississippi River system out of New Orleans.
Bud is a Professional Entertainer who has mastered the art of Banjo, Guitar and a long list of unforgettable songs as he entertained
many hundreds of thousands of people - as they took a trip up the Mississippi and its tributaries to relive the many past memories
of these Great Paddle Steamers. Not many people can boast to a thirteen year career on one steamer - therefore, it can only be
stated that Bud is a Great Showman and Presenter in today's World.
Among many of Bud's other interests is the collection of many of the truly old tunes coming from the phonograph era and sheet music,
later to transcribe them into midi form - bringing back the nostalgic tunes of yesteryear - such as the 1910 " Ragtime " tune playing now.
~ Thanks Bud ~

The Delta Queen - as of the 26th of August, 2007 will be 80 years old, the vessel is still in regular Service.
The Delta King is beside a pier in Old Town Sacramento - now a Dinner Theater featuring two shows nightly.



The Delta Queen History
by Franz Neumeier from his site - Steamboats.Org
Click below

CLICK HERE



stdq

Save-the-Delta-Queen.org - An appeal to save the legendary sternwheeler Delta Queen, which may be forced into retirement in 2008.
Click below

Click here




Note - Certain Images on this website are under Copyright and are Registered.

For a Better Understanding of Copyright Laws click here - Click here - to learn more !!



 

index button