Olympia Music Hall

17 Pleasant Street,
Worcester, MA 01609

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spectrum on March 14, 2022 at 6:08 am

Their website is gone. Don’t know if they are still going on with their renovation plans.

Athelstan on October 16, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Channel 5’s Chronicle did a story tonight 10/16/20 on the Olympia aka the notorious Art Theatre. You can find it on the WCVB website. I am pasting the transcript below.

In worcester, nicole tells us, theatergoers went to the olympia. ♪ nicole: it is easy to overlook. A historical landmark on pleasant street in worcester. The only sign on the outside of what was once the hub of nightlife here. Mosaic tiles at the feet of unremarkable doors leading to the theater. >> it is a magnificent building made from fine quality materials. It is irreplaceable. Nicole: debra packard, with worcester’s preservation society says this space originally opened in 1891 as lothrop’s opera house. It is one of the few theaters perhaps frozen in time. Covered in years of neglect, broken down this of the grand decor though they try, cannot mask the beauty of the past. ♪ >> you see the stage. One or two lights and you know there were lights all around the stage. It is just — i can’t imagine how exciting that was to come here and see those lights. Nicole: chairs beaten-down by the weight of time with intricate carvings deke through insulation that once kept the sounds of performance tightly surrounding audiences of up to 1300 people. >> it’s a great combination of the energy of the past. When it first opened, it was very unusual because the orchestra was all-female. I would like to envision what was going on especially since it has had so many iterations. >> ♪ nicole: iterations that called for an evolving clientele. >> a theater venue. Then later on it became a cinema and then a so-called fine arts cinema. Nicole: fine arts meaning? >> meaning, risque. Pornography, i guess you would call it? ♪ nicole: torn and tattered, the once elegant red carpets still covered the creaking steps that lead to the balcony and a treasure-hunt of sorts. That is where we met the buildings caretaker, glenn pieper, one of the only people who has been inside appear the last decade. >> it’s just nostalgic coming here. They used to use it, raise the curtains. Prop ratings up above. Nicole: while he hopes the curtain will once again rise on the stage, he holds dear to theatrical antiques still in working order. >> this is awesome. What is it? >> it is a projector. What they used to do the old movies with. Nicole: how did it work? >> they used a carbon rod which would create that and it would be like welding. They used the bright light. ♪ nicole: like a hollywood ending, pieper hopes for revival here. >> it is so exciting for me to think of what it could become. I think this can be a really special place. ♪ As for the olympia theater in Worcester, a 2019 couple stepped forth with plans to repurpose the property for a venue for live music. They have not been able to go on with those plans because of covid-19. The property remains on preservation worcester’s list of most endangered properties.

spectrum on April 12, 2020 at 2:00 pm

I’m delighted to see that my comment from 2014 is incorrect and the theatre is still standing and will be renovated!

Here are some links to good detailed articles:

Official “Olympia Music Hall” website:


Details of their plan :(You can download the full plan here):


Extensive article:


Extensive photo gallery:


June 2019 Article in Worcester Telegram:


rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 19, 2019 at 10:26 am

More details about the possible reopening: the present owner paid only $60K for the building. He has let the prospective buyers into the theatre many times for planning purposes and cleaning up. There are 2 storefront tenants on the ground floor and these will be retained. An elevator will be installed in the lobby to reach the upper floors. A semi-circular forestage or apron will be built at the front of the stage. New stage equipment will be installed. For now, they seem to be using the old name “Olympia”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 18, 2019 at 10:50 am

This theatre may be reopened. (it was never gutted out inside).There are 2 people who are negotiating to purchase it. They want to rehab it, build a forestage, and operate it as a music hall, with a bar & grill on the main floor and live music acts on weekends.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 19, 2018 at 11:09 am

I heard recently that this theater is still intact inside and has not been gutted out. It has been made whole and is no longer a 2-screen auditorium. I saw a photo of the proscenium and stage. The seats in front have been removed. The stage is remarkably shallow. I have no idea what plans are in place for this building.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 30, 2016 at 10:28 am

Two THS members went inside the Art around March 2005 while scouting for the 2006 Boston convention of THS. It was operating at the time. I was not with them. The entrance was on the far right of the building with a nice staircase going up one flight. The proscenium and stage were at the left end of the building. They stated that there was a second screen in the balcony, however the visitor in 2008 reported that the auditorium was whole. Anyway, the front wall of the building served as the left sidewall of the theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 29, 2016 at 6:34 pm

I have to disagree with Spectrum about the building not having been big enough for a theater, and about the auditorium having been in an annex on the Pearl Street side of the block. For one reason, the buildings along Pearl Street were already gone in a 1995 photo at Historic Aerials. The theater was still in operation s late as 2006. Someone who was inside the Art Theatre in September, 2008, described in this comment by Ron Salters, said that the auditorium was in fairly good condition at that time (the auditorium has apparently since been gutted.) It also says that the theater’s stage was only seven feet deep.

This earlier comment by Ron Salters cites a 1941 MGM report saying that the theater then had 650 seats on the main floor and 536 in the balcony. The footprint of this building is quite ample for a 650 seat main floor and a seven foot deep stage. Keep in mind that this was an upstairs house (probably one of the last in operation in the U.S.) and could use the entire depth of the building, all the way to the street wall, for the theater, with none of its space taken up by those storefronts, which are on the ground floor.

spectrum on January 29, 2016 at 3:21 pm

It looks like the auditorium has been demolished. The building with street frontage showing above is still there in Google Street Views, but that building definitely isn’t big enough to house the auditorium – From the back it looks like it connected with something that is now demolished. There’s a parking lot there now.

Frank1956 on April 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Did anyone know that there is still an old theater on Main Street in Worcester about 400 feet to the left of the renovated Hanover Theater and across from the old Denholm building.? It is on the second floor. curtain still in place, seats still in place. Does anyone know the name of the hidden theater? I was in there about 5 years ago as a visitor.

Frank1956 on April 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

It is the old Olympia. On the second level there still sits in history, the old cast iron chairs with wood seats that fold down. Above and behind the seats in the projector room there is an old projector that used an electronic type rod that (I think)was carbon arc light. There were some old carbon arc rods just sitting around. Yes, lost in time however very interesting just to sit on the old seats and imagine.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I don’t know why I wrote Joe Goodman in my previous comment. The songwriter’s name was Joe Goodwin.

The Worcester Theatre isn’t listed at Cinema Treasures, and I’ve been unable to discover if it ever showed movies, other than a single exhibition of an early sound film process in 1913. Here’s a page with a photo of it anyway. It had a somewhat more ornate front than the Fine Arts, with some nice Romanesque detailing. Almost every comment on the page conflates it with either the Lothrop’s/Olympia/Fine Arts or the Poli/Hanover Theatre.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Joe Vogel is correct: both the Google Street View at the top of the page, and the photo linked to by Lost Memory in May 2009 are of this theater, the Art.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 6, 2013 at 11:11 am

bbatty: The 1986 photo linked to by lostmemory in the comment of May 15, 2009, shows the same building that is in the Google Street View currently displayed at the top of this page. The Google view shows Pleasant Street, and is dated August, 2007. I believe that the Worcester Theatre on Exchange Street was long gone by that time. The theater in our photos has to be the Lathrop’s/Olympia/Fine Arts.

Here is a photo of this theater when it was the Olympia. The John Wayne movie Flame of the Barabary Coast is advertised on the marquee, which dates the photo to about 1945.

The photo comes from this weblog post about songwriter Joe Goodman, which is worth a visit in its own right, as are Chet Williamson’s other posts about Worcester’s songwriters.

bbatty on May 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

There are a lot of great comments here about the old Lothrop’s Opera House\Olympia\Fine Arts. However, I’m surprised that in all this time the pictures have not been corrected. The two pictures displayed on this site ARE NOT the same building being described. These pictures are of the Worcester Theatre on Exchange Street in Worcester. This is the second Worcester Theatre, rebuilt right after the original 1860’s building was destroyed by fire in 1889. This was the “high class” legitimate playhouse of the period that saw most of the great stage actors of the 19th and early 20th century appear here.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 10, 2011 at 11:19 am

As the Pleasant Street Theatre, the Art was included in the Worcester theaters on a long list of Massachusetts theaters and halls receiving licenses during the 12 months ending Oct. 31, 1914. Other Worcester entries on the list: Grand Theatre (managed by Poli), Lincoln Park Theatre, New Park Theatre, Plaza Theatre (managed by Poli), Poli’s Theatre, Worcester Theatre, Tuckerman Hall, Mechanics Hall, Columbus Hall, Gem Hall.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 29, 2010 at 11:20 am

“Someone Who Was There” tells me that he has heard that the interior of the Art has recently been gutted out.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 8, 2008 at 11:04 am

“Someone Who Was There” was in Worcester a couple of weeks ago and managed to get inside the Art. He says that the auditorium is whole and not divided. It says “Twin” at the top of this page, so I assume that it was divided downstairs and upstairs, but there is no evidence of this today. Was There liked the street-level foyer with its staircase going up to the theater; he says the house is in relatively good condition, and reeks of old-time theater atmosphere. He says that there is some sort of drop-ceiling in the auditorium. The biggest surprise was that the stage is only about 7 feet deep. This surprised both of us since we know that it was a live stage theater for the first 20 years or so of its existence. I know that a century ago the troupers in the touring shows were very versatile and could put on their show in any theater, no matter how small the stage. Was There liked this theater very much and hopes the new owner can manage to preserve it.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 28, 2008 at 10:51 am

A couple of Theatre Historical Society members were in downtown Worcester on June 25 and report that the Art is still sitting closed up with no evidence of any remodeling going on.

runner90046 on February 28, 2008 at 4:04 pm

The theater was just sold to a developer who is looking into renovating the building and creating a performing arts space, coffee shop or nightclub. See link for article.

View link

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on January 27, 2006 at 5:11 pm

I drove past the site today, and there isn’t a theatre there. (wish I had taken a photo, sorry)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 27, 2006 at 8:22 am

I have heard that the Art has just closed – can anyone confirm?