834 Main Street,
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Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
The Gem Theater was built as a dedicated silent movie theatre and opened on September 25, 1912. Following a remodel and the installation of an Austin organ, it was reopened on April 20, 1926. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. and was listed as (Closed). The Gem Theater has been closed since the early-1960’s. The building was incorporated with the neighboring building to the west, to become the new YMCA in 1966. The interior was heavily modified and the facade was covered with stylized concrete blocks. From the street, this appears as one building.
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In the long lists of theater chains in the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac, the Gem and the Capitol in Willimantic are both listed under Warner Brothers Circuit Management of New York. However, the Gem is listed as “Closed” at that time.
The August 29, 1941, issue of The Film Daily had this item about the Gem Theatre:
The Gem Theatre opened on September 25, 1912, according to a 1920 book, A Modern History of Windham County, Connecticut, by Allen B. Lincoln. The owner of the house was Arthur P. Dorman, who had earlier taken over operation of the Scenic Temple, another early Willimantic movie house.
The May 1, 1926, issue of Moving Picture World said that Hoffman Enterprises had reopened the Gem Theatre in Willimantic on April 20. The company had bought the house on February 1 and closed it for extensive remodeling, which included the installation of a new ventilation system and an Austin organ. Hoffman retained as manager John R. Pickett, who had been in charge of the house since its opening in 1912.