Chatham Orpheum Theatre

637 Main Street,
Chatham, MA 02633

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Interstate Theatres Corporation

Firms: Gensler and Associates

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Orpheum Theatre, Chatham Theatre, Chatham Cinema

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News About This Theater

 Chatham Orpheum marquee

Originally opened as the Orpheum Theatre in 1917 with 300-seats. In 1933 it was renamed Catham Theatre. This was a small theatre, later operated by Interstate Theatres. It had a few sister theatres including the Orleans Theatre, Dennis Theatre, and Yarmouth Drive-In, all located on Cape Cod, MA. They were open only from early-spring till early-fall. Had two performances daily at 7 and 9 pm and offered rainy day matinees! When folks could not go to the beach the movies were open.

The Chatham Cinema was closed in 1987, and was converted into a CVS. The historic building’s exterior was not changed and when CVS moved out in November 2011 (and the nearby multiplex closed the same day) local citizens launched a drive to ‘bring back movies to Main Street’, forming a group to help raise funds to reopen the theatre under its original name Orpheum Theatre.

In six-months, more than $1.5 million has been raised in direct donations from 2,400 local residents, and the Chatham Orpheum Theatre also received a $400,000 community grant towards a goal of $2.75 million. The building was purchased outright on April 18, 2012 for $1.3 million. Architectural firm Gensler Architects has been retained and renovation plans have been approved by the local zoning board, planning boad and historical board. A 2-screen theatre is planned (50-seats & 160-seats) plus a Cafe Theatre which will operate all day and evening to bolster income in this seasonal seaside community.

It reopened around February 2012.

Contributed by Dr. Forrest Leone, Tim Roper

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

kencmcintyre on May 1, 2009 at 8:50 pm

The CVS store/former theater can be seen in this photo:

kencmcintyre on May 1, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Address should be 637 Main Street.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 4, 2009 at 2:32 pm

ken mc’s CVS store photo shows the facade looking something like it did in the Chatham Theatre’s May 1941 photo on the MGM Theatre Report, complete with the row of large “X” shapes along the upper part of the facade. In the 1983 theater photo, the facade is much modernized compared to its more traditonal appearance in 1941. The theatre had a peaked roof and shingled sides, fronted by a big rectangular false front.

crownx on July 24, 2009 at 8:10 pm

ken mc

Nice photos….I was manager and projectionist for many years.(More that I like to remember.)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 14, 2010 at 2:24 pm

The 1927 Film Daily Yearbook lists one movie venue for Chatham, Mass., the Orpheum Theatre with 600 seats, open 6 days per week. There is a posting above by Richard D which says that the original name for the Chatham Th. was “Orpheum”.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on November 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Our company, Oberleitner Associates Cinema Consultants, Could probably be of great service to your project. We have over 40 years of experience in working with non-profit groups, small and medium theatrical,cinema ventures.

For complete information, reference and, contact info. and such, please visit our website at:

We shall look forward to hearing from you!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

The business news of the Quincy Patriot Ledger of Sat Nov. 26, 2011 carried a long article about this theater “Group Seeks reprise of Orpheum Theater – Nonprofit plans to restore Chatham movie house”.This group has energy, ideas, plans, drawings, specs, etc. Missing is $2.7M needed for the project. They would restore the facade to something like original. There would be a 30-seat cafe in front and 2 screens, one with 50 seats and one with 160 seats; the latter would have a stage. (the article points out that live performances were given here in the few years leading up to the 1990 take-over by CVS.) They give the dates of movie operation as 1915-1988. CVS moved out in Oct to a new store down the street. At the same time, according to the article, Regal cinemas closed their operation in Harwich. The group wants to buy the Orpheum building. The Patriot Ledger article is by Doreen Leggett, Wicked Local Cape Cod.

JimMitchell on July 28, 2014 at 2:24 pm

The New York Times, in a story today about Chatham and sharks, indicates that the theatre is open. It shows “Jaws” twice a day during summer vacation season and other movies, too.

bobtomgrim on February 1, 2018 at 5:28 am

I spent a holiday in Chatham a few years ago and visited a retail store in the main street. The lady serving at the checkout told me that the building was previously a cinema…can you verify this?

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