Royal Theatre

987 S. Water Street,
New Bedford, MA 02744

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Ookamithewolf1 on March 13, 2024 at 1:58 am

So, a few things. First the description about X-rated movies seems to be wrong, as it looks like that stems from the comment made by Bsilva. However he is referring to the Strand theater, which was operated as a porn theater through the 70s and 80s. Maybe the Royal did run porn, but if so it wasn’t for long. According to historical aerial photos of the city, the Royal was standing in 71 and demolished by 74. Also it was a really small theater. According to the 1911 city atlas, which shows the theater building, it was barely 30 feet wide by 146 feet long. A similarly sized theater, The Strand over on Martha’s Vinyard, only seats just over 200, with only a center aisle and rows of 7 seats on either side. Even if the Royal had smaller seats for an extra row, and was a little longer, and had a balcony, I do not see how it could have 900+ seats. I figure, just going off of the size of the lot it could have no more than 500 to 600 seats tops. Hope you all find these tidbits interesting.

smooth14 on June 6, 2018 at 1:43 am

The Royal Theater was on water street in the south end. In 1955 I would go there and pay 10 cents to watch 2 movies and a serial and cartoon. It was a small theater on one level. The Orpheum Theater was only 3 businesses away on the same side of the street. If you went to the Orpheum, you needed to walk up several steps to get to the concession and movie seating. It was a much nicer theater than the Royal.

ousia on November 4, 2015 at 8:13 am

Oops, I meant the Orpheum Theater, not the Olympia. The Olympia, of course, was downtown on Purchase Street just south of the bus station.

ousia on November 4, 2015 at 7:55 am

Lived in the South End from 1953 – 1960. Used to go to the Olympia on Water Street nearly every Saturday afternoon; (25 cent matinees!) I remember the Royal just a block or two to the north of the Olympia. And yes, bsilva is right, Water Street was a bustling commercial center at the time. That’s where the great Silverstein’s was originally located. Of course, this was all before urban removal.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 27, 2015 at 1:16 pm

PHOTO OF ROYAL THEATRE, 1941, IN MGM REPORTS Thanks to Theatre Historical Society of America.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm

The Royal is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 900 seats and open daily.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 11, 2007 at 11:13 am

There is a MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Royal Theatre in New Bedford with an exterior photo dated May 1941. The building had a narrow left bay with a store, and a wide right bay with the theatre’s entrance. There was a vertical sign and a very fancy rain canopy. In the photo, a short line of patrons is waiting to go in. The Report states that the Royal is at 987 South Water St., that it has been showing MGM films for over 10 years; that it’s over 15 years old (in 1941); and in Fair condition, and has 510 seats on the main floor and 418 balcony seats; total: 928 seats.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 25, 2005 at 3:14 am

Bsilva, yes, I thought it was in the South End, near the Orpheum. I’m from Providence and don’t know the city that well. I paid a visit to the Orpheum a while back and took some photos. I found the exterior overwhelming. Have you been inside? Could you post something on its page?

bsilva on August 24, 2005 at 6:21 pm

The Royal Theater was located on South Water Street in the south end of New Bedford, a short walk just two or three blocks from the Orpheum Theater (which still stands un occupied today). The area was one of the most vibrant shopping areas in the city in the 1950s and as such had a great deal of pedestrian traffic. The Royal was the original “Discount Theater” in the city usually featuring reruns, on a par with the local drive-ins of the time. The Royal was anything but, it was very small, dark and dingy with only two isles. My mother always hating me going there, telling me it was infested with rats. (never saw one)

96toy4run on July 18, 2005 at 4:29 am

Hi, I remember the Royal Theater when I was in my teens. I went there one time.It was located up the North end about maybe 3 or 4 miles from the Orpheum Theater, which is located in the South end of New Bedford Ma. The Royal Theater was still open in the early 70’s showing x Rated movies.


Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 10, 2005 at 4:35 pm

Judging by the address, this theatre seems to have been located in the South End, not far from the Orpheum and on the same street.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 9, 2005 at 6:27 pm

Listed as operating as a movie theatre in Film Daily Yearbook’s that I have (years 1941-1950)