Rialto Theatre

35 Millbury Street,
Worcester, MA 01610

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Functions: Retail

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Rialto Theatre

An Italian immigrant, Fred Fedeli, along with his brother and his cousin saved up $1,800 and leased the Bijou Theater from someone Mr. Fedeli called “Lawyer Katz”.

They played silent films there. In 1918 they were approached by a man who said he was going to build a new theater across the street. They thought they were going to have competition, but the man actually wanted them to run it. They got a ten year lease on this new “Rialto” theater and before the lease was up they had bought it. The Rialto Theatre was opened on April 1, 1918 with Alice Joyce in “Womanhood, the Glory of the Nation”.

The Bijou Theatre was later turned into a five-and-dime store and as of 1978 the building was still there. From what I gather, it sounds like both the old Bijou Theatre and the Rialto Theatre were located at Eighth Street and Millbury Street in what was at the time a working-class immigrant neighborhood.

The Rialto Theatre was still operating in 1950. Today only facade and front section of the building remains and is in retail use. The Rialto Theatre name survives on the entrance floor of the building.

Contributed by Jack

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 15, 2006 at 10:06 am

In the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook, there is no Bijou Theatre listed for Worcester, but there is a Rialto, with 1283 seats. There is also a Report for the Rialto in Worcester in the MGM Theatre Photograph and Report project. There is an exterior photo taken in April 1941. The Wentworth Bakery is to the right of the entrance and a market is to the left. The address is given as “37 Millburg”. (That’s close to “Millbury”). The competing theater is listed as the Royal Theatre. The Report states that the Rialto is not a MGM customer; that it was over 15 years old; that it’s in Poor condition; and that it had 940 orchestra seats and 340 balcony seats, total: 1280 seats.

jim28518 on December 20, 2008 at 10:10 am

The Rialto Theatre was located at 45 to 41 Millbury street corner of Carpenter street as shown on a 1922 map of Worcester, MA. It is not shown at that location on a 1911 map of Worcester. I can remember going to the Rialto in 1948 as a 5 year old, Mom would take me faithfully on the weekends as the Rialto would give away dishes and she wanted to collect the whole set. I’m attemping to upload a 2008 google street view of the location, it shows a “Rialto Video” at the Millbury street location.

jim28518 on December 20, 2008 at 10:17 am

Just tried to upload the “Rialto Video” but this web site said try again in future. Should someone want to see location go to google earth plug in “45 Millbury st, worcester, ma”, then click on “street view” and pan around.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 30, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I looked at the Google Street View for 45 Millbury St. in Worcester, as mentioned above. I compared the building to the 1941 photo of the Rialto on the MGM Theatre Report. I am 99% certain that it is the same. The Rialto entrance and marquee were in the center of the building, under the big arched window. It’s where the “Video” sign is located today.

MrDJDude on August 4, 2009 at 4:52 am

Drove by here over the weekend unintentionally. Looks the same as the street view, although the sign seemed faded. Rough-looking section of Worcester, too.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm

A 1920 Worcester City Directory lists the Bijou Theatre at 24 Millbury Street and the Rialto Theatre at 37 Millbury Street (the Rialto’s building occupies multiple lots.)

spectrum on September 4, 2014 at 5:11 pm

The building at 45 Milbury St looks like it could have been the front part of a theatre at one time, but this street is right next to the interstate. The building here may have been a front retail section with an auditorium behind it sitting where the Interstate is now.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 4, 2014 at 10:50 pm

I, too, suspect that the Rialto’s auditorium was demolished for the highway. In a 1960 image at Historic Aerials it looks like the highway was then under construction. This 1938 aerial is blurry, but it does look as though there is a structure attached to the back of the building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 17, 2014 at 3:40 pm

A brief piece about Worcester’s theaters in the June 7, 1919, issue of The Moving Picture World has a few lines about the Rialto and indicates that it was built in 1918:

“Worcester is another New England town in very good shape; there are about twelve theatres in town doing business, among them being the Bijou, seating 600, admission 6 and 10 cents, and the Rialto, seating 1,200, admission 11 cents. The latter house was erected about one year ago at a cost of $75,000. It is up to date, has a three-piece orchestra and is owned and operated by James J. Greeko, who has made a success in the motion picture business as an exhibitor. I asked Mr. Greeko if he uses newspapers and he informed me that he employs a paper which reaches the working men in his neighborhood.”

rivest266 on April 26, 2024 at 5:34 pm

The Rialto opened on April 1st, 1918. Article posted.

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