Olympia Theatre

40 Main Street,
Woonsocket, RI 02895

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Music Hall Theatre, Nickel Theatre, Strand Theatre, New Strand Theatre

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This was a major theatre in downtown Woonsocket. It opened around 1850 as the Music Hall Theatre. It later became the Nickel Theatre and in 1900 it was renamed Strand Theatre. On January 1, 1926 it was damaged in a fire, which killed two children. It reopened as the Olympia Theatre. It was closed in the 1950’s and was badly damaged by a fire in August 1955. It was gutted internally and became a restaurant. It was demolished many decades ago

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 2, 2011 at 11:44 am

Flood in Woonsocket, then fire.

From a piece found in Tri City Herald (Washington state), August 22, 1955:

“The flood-weakened bridge over River Street collapsed yesterday, leading local authorities to close all but one bridge to all traffic except for emergency vehicles.

“The city suffered additional woe yesterday when fire destroyed the abandoned Olympia Theatre and three stores.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 17, 2011 at 11:26 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. The Olympia was then called the Strand. CLICK HERE

ginshaw
ginshaw on August 6, 2011 at 1:13 am

My mother-in-law, Jean Rabinowitz worked at the Olympia theatre in Woonsocket starting at age 14 (1940). Her uncle, Maurice Safner owned 3 or 4 theatres in Woonsocket, as she recalls. Jean’s father, James “Jack” Rabinowitz (later changed his name to Robins) ran one of the theatres c. 1936. Jean sold popcorn, candy and pop in the concession stand and worked Friday night and all day on Saturdays and Sundays. She made $2.50 (later raised to $3.00) for the entire weekend. Once in awhile, she sold tickets at the back entrance (sounds like the Main Street entrance according to earlier posts here) to the theatre and could see the movie at the same time.

PaulaP
PaulaP on October 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Although most of the wonderful old theaters are now gone from Woonsocket, it is really great to check out the Stadium Theater’s website and check the upcoming shows to see if there is one that would be of interest to you. About a year ago, I went to a “Pasta and Politics” night, where we ate spaghetti and watched Buddy Cianci talk about his years as Mayor of Providence and his jail time". When I look at the schedule now, there are concerts I would love to see…It’s just hard getting people to drive up from New York with me. I just can’t tell you how much fun it was to stay in a local B&B and spend a night at the Stadium and then walk over to Ciro’s. Now if I could also succeed in talking someone to going to a Rustic Drive-In show in Smithfield when it opens again in the Spring. The Stadium is gorgeous again, though. Worth a visit.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 6, 2015 at 7:44 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Olympia; it’s Card # 563. Address is 40 Main. There is an exterior photo dated May 1941. The condition is Poor. It was over 15 years old, and was not showing MGM films. 830 seats. The 1940 population of Woonsocket was 49,300.

CatherineD
CatherineD on January 4, 2018 at 5:57 pm

Gerard, I found this information while researching someone and you seem so knowledgeable about vaudeville. I’m searching for any info on a particular woman performer named Bertha Tremblay (later married name French) who’s stage name was Hope, in Woonsocket area around 1920-1935. She’s impossible to find but I assure you, she existed. She was, or her family were French Canadian immigrants. It’s actually a sad story but wondering if you had any insight for me? Please email me if you see this at . Thank you!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 4, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Chet Dowling I myself posted a photo in the photos section. It was a picture on the 1941 MGM survey of N.E. theatres. Did you see it?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 12, 2019 at 4:29 pm

A friend said of the Olympia: “Once a week I went with my parents to the Olympia where my Mother collected a piece of china . I also remember that the Olympia was called the scratch house, but only sitting in the balcony where dark deeds also went on. but what do I know. I wasn’t even 7 yet.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 28, 2021 at 4:29 pm

A good early history of Woonsocket’s theatres can be found in The Woonsocket Call, June 1, 1942. Find that issue by searching here: http://woonsocket.advantage-preservation.com/

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 21, 2023 at 5:13 pm

A friend wrote: “We called it flea house and much went on in the upper level with bad boys and girls.”

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