80 Hanover Street,
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Palace Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Shea Theatres
Architects: Leon H. Lempert, Jr.
Functions: Performing Arts
When the Palace Theatre opened on April 9, 1915, it was billed as one of the grandest theaters Manchester had ever seen. It was designed by architect Leon Lempert, Jr. It could boast that it was the first theater in the state that was both fireproof and air-conditioned (fans blew over huge blocks of ice under the stage).
The Palace Theatre opened with a live musical, "The Modern Eve", and in addition to live theater, vaudeville acts played its stage from 1915 until about 1930. Among those to play the Palace Theatre in Manchester included Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Red Skelton and the Marx Brothers.
Starting in 1930, and continuing into the 1960’s, the Palace Theatre switched to a movies-only policy. However, by the 1960’s, the Palace Theatre began to screen adult features.
In the late-1960’s, it was closed, and taken over by New Hampshire College for additional classroom space.
After the college moved out, the auditorium seats were taken out, and the Palace Theatre was used as a warehouse for a couple years, falling into serious disrepair.
In 1974, Manchester’s mayor Sylvio S. Dupuis and lawyer John MacLane began a campaign to return the former theatre to life, and with financial assistance, the theatre was restored to its original glory, including new orchestra seating. The Palace Theatre was reopened later in 1974, as a performing arts center, with nearly as much fanfare as almost sixty years earlier when it first opened its doors.
In 1980, a burst pipe sent over 70,000 gallons of water cascading from the balcony down to the main floor, causing some damage, but quickly repaired. Four years later, a disastrous fire caused heavy damage to many of the Palace’s neighbors on Hanover Street, but thanks to its fireproof building material, the theater and its immediate neighbors were unscathed by the blaze.
The nearly 900-seat Palace Theatre continues to be one of the premier performing arts centers in the state of New Hampshire, as well as home to the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra and the Opera League of New Hampshire.
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