Olympia Theatre

1849 Westminster Street,
Providence, RI 02909

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Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 10, 2023 at 2:29 am

A Facebook comment about the Olympia: “My dad loved the movies there and the serials. I was able to get several of the serials on VHS tape. I stay over his house and he was like a kid. He told me Jacob Cohn wanted to fill every seat so he’d let you in with less than full admission price. I don’t know if the Royal Theater showed kids movies on weekend days. My dad would have been 13 in 1933.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 21, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Joe Vogel: The only theatre that would make sense is the Royal. I don’t know of any Palace in Olneyville. There were short-lived storefront operations, most of which had disappeared by that time. Either he is referring to the Royal or else to a Palace I never read anything about and never saw in any listing or ad from that time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Gerald, as you are the most frequent contributor to pages for Providence theaters maybe you can solve this puzzle. I found this item in The Moving Picture World of October 21, 1922:

“Fred Lovett, manager of the Palace in the Olneyville section of Providence, believes in seeing every picture before booking it. The result has been that this house has been consistently making money, while similar houses who have booked on hearsay, have had a somewhat up and down career.”
As we don’t have a Palace Theatre listed in Olneyville, I’m puzzled. Are Cinema Treasures' listings missing a theater? Did the magazine get the location wrong, or the name? Is Palace a missing aka for one of the other theaters in the neighborhood? I don’t know what to make of it.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 12, 2017 at 5:22 am

A Facebook friend of mine wrote about walking to the Olympia with family members from up on Hartford Avenue. He said, “There were 6 of us siblings that would go together. For 25 cents each we would see the a cartoon at the beginning, then the Newsreel, two feature movies and then another couple of cartoons and then we would collect a piece of dinnerware until my mother had enough for our family of 13."

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE on the opening of the Olympia in September 1926 with photo of owner, Captain Jacob Conn.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 22, 2011 at 10:32 am

This newspaper ad from September 19, 1926, a few weeks after the Olympia first opened, promotes a film with Rudolph Valentino, who had recently died.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 15, 2011 at 6:08 am

This newspaper ad appeared the day of the theatre’s opening, September 5, 1926. The first films shown were the silents The Grand Duchess and the Waiter, with Florence Vidor and Adolphe Menjou, and The Runaway, with Clara Bow and Warner Baxter. Admission prices ranged from 10 cents to 25 cents. Reference is made to the theatre’s organ. A photo of owner-builder Jacob Conn appears in the ad.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 25, 2010 at 7:07 am

CinemaScope capability comes to Olympia. Item in Boxoffice magazine, January 15, 1955:

“E. M. Loew’s Olympia, Olneyville neighborhood house, will soon reopen, completely redecorated and equipped with CinemaScope.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 3, 2009 at 11:03 am

Here is a set of some recently found photos of the Olympia dating to 1926, around the time of its opening and during a presentation of a Valentino film following the death of the star. They are the first photos of the Olympia that I have ever seen. Thanks to theatre owner Jacob Conn’s great-granddaughter Laura Frommer.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 23, 2008 at 12:06 pm

From Temples of Illusion by Roger Brett, about Jacob Conn’s building of the Olympia Theatre:

“Shortly after leasing the Weybosset Street house [Gaiety] and changing its name to Conn’s City Theater, he built Conn’s Olympia Theater in Olneyville Square. This edifice included an office block and in it he installed a radio station, WCOT. All this he accomplished in 1926 and 1927. By now he considered Olneyville to be his personal fief, his base of power…”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 29, 2007 at 8:04 am

“Is this site now the "Olney Towers” high rise?“
Yes, it is.

melbedewy on January 29, 2007 at 3:42 am

Is this site now the “Olney Towers” high rise?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 30, 2006 at 12:42 am

The 1949 Film Daily Yearbook lists the seating capacity of the Olympia as 1383.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 7, 2005 at 3:14 am

Other Olneyville Square theatres were the Edisonia/Pastime/Gem, the Dimerina, and the Royal.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 15, 2005 at 3:02 pm

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

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 21, 2005 at 8:31 am

In March of 1953 the Olympia instituted a policy of being open only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Not a good sign.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 13, 2005 at 11:41 am

A 1940 Providence Journal Almanac entry has the Olympia owned by Delphina Realty Company; leased and operated by E.M. Loew’s, Inc., Boston. The seating capacity was given as 1500.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 15, 2004 at 6:00 am

The exact address was 1849 Westminster Street. The theatre was also known as Conn’s Olympia Theatre.