Pastime Theatre

1911 Westminster Street,
Providence, RI 02909

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Edisonia Theatre, Gem Theatre

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Pastime Theatre

Built in the first decade of the 20th Century and opening prior to 1908, this was one of the growing crop of movie houses, often store-front ones, that were being started in various Providence neighborhoods. This one was located in Olneyville Square. It was closed in 1917 and converted into retail use, becoming the Grand Central Market.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 15, 2005 at 6:00 pm

In 1901 singer/actor Nelson Eddy was born in this neighborhood of Olneyville.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 6, 2005 at 11:43 am

It is evident now, based on city directories of the time, the the theatre had another name as well. From about 1915-1916, it was called the Gem Theatre.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 6, 2005 at 12:06 pm

The Gem Theatre, mentioned in Roger Brett’s volume about Providence movie theatres, Temples of Illlusion, as a separate theatre from this one, turns out to be the same one with a different name. Newspaper ads show it calling itself “The little house with the big features.” They boasted that they were the only theatre in Providence that changed its entire program every day. They must have been having stiff competition with the new and larger Royal Theatre, built in 1914 in Olneyville Square. Here is a newspaper ad for the Gem Theatre from October 17, 1915.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 6, 2005 at 12:10 pm

Kaufman and Braunig were named as owners in the 1916 city directory. The Gem Theatre no longer appears in the 1917 city directory or in later ones.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 7, 2005 at 6:17 am

Other Olneyville Square theatres were the Royal, the Dimerina, and the Olympia.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 2, 2011 at 8:45 am

From The Evening News, Providence, December 4, 1913:

“From last spring the folks in this vicinity thought that by this time Olneyville could boast of three theatres, but the indications are at the present time they will have to struggle along with the little Pastime theatre. The one most looked for was to be erected at the corner of Broadway and Valley Street* by Messrs. Smith & Nathanson of the Empire Theatre, and it was announced that it would be opened the first of this month, but so far no move has been made to build. It was also hinted that still another would be opened on the Waterman estate at the junction of Hartford Avenue and Plainfield Street**, but so far there are no signs of building.”

*Conn’s Olympia on Westminster at Olneyville Square would not arrive until 1926.
**The Royal would be built at that intersection about a year later in 1914.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 2, 2011 at 8:52 am

Small ad in The Evening News, January 11, 1912:

Olneyville Square
Moving Pictures, Illustrated Songs.
Pictures changed daily.[/b]

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 24, 2021 at 5:25 am

Blurbs found in The Olneyville Times: “The Pastime Olneyville is giving some excellent shows and is vey well patronized.” (11-27-1908)“Messrs. Steere and Brophy of this place (Georgiaville, RI) have purchased the Pastime Theatre in Olneyville,” (12-25-1908) “The Pastime Theatre closed for the season last Saturday.”(7-9-1909) “Extensive repairs are being made to the Pastime Theatre building.” (6-16-1916) “Two stores are to be made at the Pastime Theatre location.” (6-23-1916)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 25, 2021 at 6:16 am

Olneyville Times (March 30, 1917): “The United Importers System, which now operates several stores in Providence, has leased the old Gem Theatre next to Banspach’s and will open a fine store there.” —This almost certainly marked the end of the Edisonia/Pastime/Gem Theatre.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 2, 2022 at 6:54 pm

The old Pastime Theatre became the Grand Central Market. I remember shopping here in the 1950’s/1960’s, noting the interior configuration of the place and figuring out (easily) where the lobby had been, the scenery tower, the projection booth, etc.

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