1081 Main Street,
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Previous Names: Barber Hall, Chase's Hall
The Strand Theatre was on the second floor of a commercial building in this small rural community in Rhode Island. The building was originally named Barber’s Hall when it was built in 1864. Over the century and a half of its existence, various businesses occupied the first floor, including a bank (the vault is still there) while the second floor theatre ran theatrical productions and films from 1917 to about the early-1950-s.
What was the theatre is now occupied by an antique store, which takes up the whole building. If you walk upstairs you can see the former stage area and the still-existing projection booth.
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Recent comments (view all 6 comments)
Finding this former movie theatre was an amazing discovery for me, since I thought I knew all of the surviving cinema buildings in Rhode Island. I was tipped off to its existence by a listing in a 1935 state business directory. And it is virtually intact, with the upstairs level-floored former auditorium now filled with antique furniture instead of seats. One can visit it any time that the antique store is open and absorb the ghosts of the films that were shown here from 1917 for over thirty years.
Here are three recent photos of the former Strand.
From Hope Valley Revived – The Recorded Past: Photographs and Oral History (1997)
“Local groups enjoyed putting on plays and dances at Chase’s Hall (formerly called Barber Hall). They had the live wires of the church put on plays and they put on a different play each night that lasted maybe a hour—an hour and a half… And then they had masquerades. They dressed up and it was a dance and you wore masks.” (…) (Hazel Ritchie)
“I found the lease where Anson Clarke leased the whole hall upstairs for use of entertainment, for showing movies, about 1914. He had to have a special arrangement made to have this booth built for showing pictures and there were restrictions on it. That was about 1914 or so. I’ve got a copy of it with the date. but you see the movies didn’t begin until about that time and I remember Anson Clarke coming up to the house trying to induce my folks to go and take us children and my mother didn’t approve of it.” (Gladys Segar)
I immediately recognized the exterior shot of this building. During the early ‘60’s I was dating someone in West Kingtston whose family had a business. I recall giving her mother a ride to that location for her banking business. She always came out laughing. The bank manager had several jokes, many off color. She wouldn’t repeat them to me as she was affraid that I would tell them to her daughter. I never realized that a theater had been located there. The building was at a Y between Rt.138 and another road. Could have been Rt.3. I would never have guessed that this building once contained a theater.
Yes, in fact as you can see by my above photo links, the theatre is still there, fully intact, except for the seats, screen, and projectors.
I believe that the name of the bank was the Washington Trust Co., or something similar. It would be interesting if the actual height of the room and stage could be determined above the false ceiling. Also, the seats must have been portable since dances were held there.