Laurier Theatre

17 Cumberland Street,
Woonsocket, RI 02895

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Laurier Theatre

A neighborhood theatre off Woonsocket’s Social Corner. The Laurier Theatre was opened April 19, 1920 with a live stage production of the opera “Carmen”. It suffered damage from flooding in August 1955 and never reopened. It was demolished in 1958. Besides showing standard second run American film fare, it also presented for several decades frequent programs of French-language films, often unsubtitled, for the local francophone community.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm

My above post for the Olympia was mistakenly put on this page. I intended this one on the Laurier:

From an article on Woonsocket theatres in The Providence Journal.

Copyright Providence Journal/Evening Bulletin May 16, 1985

“THE SOCIAL NEIGHBORHOOD had its Laurier Theater at 17 Cumebrland St., named for Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier. "One of our finest movie houses,” is how one-time Woonsocket Historical Society President James C. Byrne remembered it.

“Today’s head of that group, Phyllis Thomas, recalls how her prim and proper French teacher urged her high school pupils to sharpen their ear for the language by attending the French films sometimes shown at the Laurier, and unwittingly recomending some rather "racy” movies.

“Ads for the Laurier’s second-run and B-movie fare in 1944 bore the slogan "Always a Good Show.” Those shows sometimes included a breath of home for Woonsocket’s many Canadian immigrants. For instance, a two-night stand that April by the “Fameuse Troupe Jean Grimaldi de Montreal… an all-new French 3-hour Riot of Fun” crowed the billing, with such attractions as Rolando Giraldo “The Canadian Cab Calloway.” All for 65-cents in the orchestra and 55-cents in the balcony. The Laurier fell victim to Hurricane Diane that flooded the Social District in 1955."

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Paul Whiteman conducted a concert at the Laurier in May 1922.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 17, 2011 at 3:28 am

This theatre was part of the September 1923 6th Paramount Week. In this advertisement from the (Providence) Evening Tribune, September 1, 1923, we see a fascinating list of Rhode Island area theatres, many long-gone and long-forgoten, or even unheard of, as well as what they were showing during that week. CLICK HERE

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 6, 2015 at 11:38 am

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Laurier; Card # 562. There is an exterior photo made May 1941. The theater was in Poor condition, over 15 years old, and showing MGM films. There were 550 seats on the main floor and 400 in the balcony, total 950 seats. The address was 17 Cumberland.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 25, 2015 at 10:59 am

Note: that Google Maps image used for the head photo is way off. The theatre was about a mile from there.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 21, 2017 at 9:54 am

A personal recollection of Woonsocket theatres, especially the Laurier, during the Depression years and after, can be found in the 2017 book “Woonsocket Born: Memories of Growing Up During the Great Depression and World War II,” by Alex C. Papianou. It is available for borrowing through the Ocean State Library System. The Laurier Theatre is humorously discussed on pages 46-48.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 21, 2021 at 4:50 am

For those familiar with Woonsocket, this long-gone theatre was located on Cumberland Street, between Clinton and Social streets, only a few yards away from St. Ann’s Church (now St. Ann Cultural Center). It was diagonally across from the present-day Walgreen’s Pharmacy. See the included map on this page.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 28, 2021 at 8:25 am

A good early history of Woonsocket’s theatres can be found in The Woonsocket Call, June 1, 1942. Find that issue by searching here:

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 2, 2021 at 4:52 am

Because of the large French-Canadian population in Woonsocket, French-language films were frequently shown in local theatres, especially from the 1930s to the mid-1950s. While the Park, Bijou, Rialto ran them as well, it was the Laurier that showed the largest number of them. I have posted ads for these showings in the photos section.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 8, 2023 at 1:41 pm

After the flooding of August 1955, the severely damaged Laurier ceased operation. By January 1958 the property was sold. The new owners had the building razed and turned into a parking lot. Right now that space is occupied by a Walgreen’s pharmacy.

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