Hathaway's Theatre

Purchase Street,
New Bedford, MA 02740

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Ookamithewolf1 on May 22, 2024 at 1:13 pm

According to a note at the bottom of page 47 of the Sanborn Fire Map of 1906, the theater had a capacity of 950. it also appears to have had a balcony and box seats.

Ookamithewolf1 on March 19, 2024 at 3:35 pm

An interesting tidbit: According to the 1904 City Directory, the theater was called “Sheedy’s” but in 1905 it’s listed as Hathaway’s. It appears as such in every city directory up till 1913, as it was sold in 1914, making this theater a short lived one at just 10 years.

spinner on July 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

This is a link to Flickr of New Bedford, MA Theatres

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Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Can’t any of the photos you have be posted here by linking to a photo server like Photobucket or Flickr? I would find them very interesting.

spinner on August 29, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Ron, I saw on the New Bedford Centre Theater page you said you have a MGM Theatre Photograph from 1941 of this theater. Would it be possible to email me that image, I was asked by the city’s Preservation Planner if I have any old photos and I can’t find any before 1979. She is working with some people who are trying to put a plan together to restore the facade of this theater. If you could I would appreciate this and would be willing to share any photos of any of the theaters I have with you. If it’s possible please email me at

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on August 29, 2007 at 10:41 am

spinner- I have read the Page for the New Bedford Th. here in CT, and knew that it had been the New Bedford Opera House. So I was thrown off by finding a “Grand Opera House” listed for New Bedford in the 1897 Cahn Guide. I think that Julius Cahn, who was foremost a theatrical agent in NY, must have had his hands full trying to keep his annual Guide accurate and up to date in an age long before computers ! The Hathaway theatres in New Bedford and in Lowell (but not the one in Brockton) are listed in a 1909 roster of Keith Circuit theatres which I have seen.

spinner on August 28, 2007 at 6:12 pm

Ron, The theater was called the New Bedford Opera House, but was also referred to as the Grand Opera House, here is a little info:
The Grace Church on Union Street was purchased by the New Bedford Opera House Association in November 1881 and converted into a theater. The architects Cummings and Sears of Boston were in charge of the renovations. The first performance held in the new theater was given by the Union Square Theater Company on March 28, 1882. This was the second church building in New Bedford to be converted into a hall for theater, the first being Liberty Hall, the old Congregational church, in 1837. The opera house was torn down in 1896 and rebuilt as the New Bedford Theater.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on August 28, 2007 at 10:46 am

Thanks for your research, spinner. A.E. Hathaway was listed as an employee of the Grand Opera House in New Bedford in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. Was the Grand Opera House a different theatre from the New Bedford Opera House, which later became a movie theatre, or was it the same building with 2 different names? – (the Cahn guides are full of errors ! ) If Hathaway did build the Hathaway theatres in Brockton and Lowell, perhaps that explains why he closed the New Bedford house after only 11 years.

spinner on August 21, 2007 at 11:45 am

I did some more research and came up with this, In 1903 George Hastings' daughter, Edith sold the building to Andrew E. Hathaway. When Mr. Hathaway acquired the property, there was a hardware and clothing store on the first floor. The Empire Clothing Store was on the second floor, and John O' Neil’s photography studio was located on the third floor. Mr Hathaway remodeled the building as a theatre in 1903. It opened on November 9, 1903, with a seating capacity of nine hundred people. In 1914 Mr. Hathaway sold the building with its theatre to the W.T. Grant Co.. The theatre was remodeled into a clothing and houseware store. This firm closed in 1975 when the store went out of business.
I also have a few photos of the building when it was a theatre and a postcard of a play group that performed there when theatre first opened.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on August 8, 2007 at 10:30 am

Hathaway’s Theatre in New Bedford was part of the Keith circuit as of 1909. There was also a Hathaway’s Theatre in Brockton and one in Lowell MA. The latter was also part of the Keith circuit in 1909. Were these 3 theatres related to one another ? Back in 1897 there was a “A. E. Hathaway” who served as an advertising man for the 1,582-seat Grand Opera House in New Bedford. Is he the Hathaway who built Hathaway’s Theatre in New Bedford, and possibly those in Brockton and Lowell ?