State Theater

345 Central Street,
Lowell, MA 01852

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Lowell Opera House, Gates Theater

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State Theater

Although I was never in the Lowell Opera House, I understand it was a Victorian beauty. After a glorious start in the late 1800’s the theater suffered as the center of the city shifted away from Back Central Street. Although local theatrical groups presented their offerings at the theater, it ended its days as a seedy second-run house.

Like many other downtown properties, it was torn down in the name of urban renewal. The footprint of the Lowell Opera House still remains in the middle of a commercial block and is used for parking.

Contributed by Robert Provencher

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

teecee on August 19, 2005 at 2:50 am

A Wurlitzer organ, opus 55, was installed in the Opera House on ¾/1915.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 26, 2007 at 7:57 am

The Lowell Opera House is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. The theatre was managed by the Fay Brothers & Hosford. Seating was listed as 1,500. Ticket prices ranged from 25 cents to $1. The proscenium opening was 34 feet square and the stage was 45 feet deep. The theatre was on the ground floor and there were 10 in the house orchestra. Local hotels for show people were the American, St. Charles and the Farragut. Daily and Weekly Lowell newspapers were the Mail, Times, Citizen, News, Courier, and Star. There was also a New Music Hall in Lowell with 1,000 seats. The 1897 population of Lowell was 100,000.

LouisRugani on January 13, 2010 at 5:24 pm

(October 14, 1951)
Youngsters Caught in Vacant Theatre
LOWELLâ€"Four South End juveniles were routed from a vacant
Central street theatre last night after police had been notified of a disturbance at this location.
The youngsters were questioned at police headquarters and
released after Norman Classman, theatre owner, had been notified.
The lads were picked up by Officer Jacob Goldman and Andrew Maguire, who found the juveniles hiding under a stairway.
Police stated it was fortunate a fire had not broken out at the vacant theatre, for candles had been lighted by the youths while inside the building. on April 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

The Opera House was built in 1887. Located in an area of Lowell called back Central street, its original address was 347 Central Street and 12 Gorham Street, straddling the fork between the two.
By 1913 it was licensed to and operated by Julius Cahn himself. Moving Picture World magazine stated that “Feature pictures, illustrated songs and no vaudeville is the policy of Julius Cahn’s Opera House, Lowell, Mass.”
In 1914 it was licensed to the Great Eastern Amusement Company, John L. Shea Pres., from 1915 to 1918 Charles H. Emerson’s Sites Emerson Company, and in 1919 and 1920 Buckley & Shaake.
It became the Gates Theater in 1934 and then finally the State Theater in 1943.
Here are a few location shots but none of the actual building unfortunately:

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