Comments from Frank C. Grace

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Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Apr 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Sunday, April 15, 2012 6:00pm until 10:00pm

New Bedford’s Orpheum Theatre turns 100!

Help us celebrate a day in History ….

On April 15, 1912 as people in New Bedford were getting ready for the opening of the Orpheum Theatre, little did they realize that the famed steamship the “RMS Titanic” had struck an iceberg and sank taking along over 1,500 souls on that very same day.

But although the Titanic was lost, the Orpheum Theatre and French Sharpshooters’ Hall opened to large crowds. It was one of the jewels of area’s theaters. It was cherished for its entertainment by many of the local citizens for 46 years until it closed in 1958.

The organization O.R.P.H., INC. (Orpheum Rising Project Helpers) with support of the Community Building Mini-Grant Program of the United Way of Greater New Bedford invite the public to join us to celebrate this 100 year milestone and to highlight plans to save this historic landmark.

Sunday April 15th, 2012 6-10 PM Café Vila Franca Restaurant 601 South Second ST. (one block west of the Orpheum Theatre) New Bedford, MA. $25 donation includes membership to O.R.P.H., Inc. (Orpheum Rising Project Helpers) There will be complimentary appetizers and a cash bar Also, Café Vila Franca has offered O.R.P.H., Inc. a gracious donation for signature drinks sold which includes the “Titanic Martini”!

Get Lucky! There will also be a silent auction and raffle!

There will be entertainment along with memorabilia, photos, and documentary videos on the theater’s history.

ORPH, Inc. would like to thank the following… Mini –Grant Program of the United Way of Greater New Bedford Area, Vila Franca Restaurant, W.H.A.L.E., NBEDC, Central Food Market, Atty. Maja Bozic along with countless supporters and volunteers.

For more info contact ORPH, Inc. president Frank C. Grace at 508-971-4173

O.R.P.H., INC. Mission Statement “To preserve, restore, protect and adapt the building known as the French Sharpshooters Hall and Orpheum Theatre located at 1005 Water Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts; to create and operate a multi-cultural arts facility, to promote arts, culture, diversity and education, to hold, organize and promote events for public participation; to manage the theater to the benefit of its stated purpose, and to do any and all acts permitted by a corporation organized under Chapter 180 of the General Laws of Massachusetts. 2004”

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Wang Theatre on Sep 13, 2011 at 5:58 am

I was allowed to photograph the inside of this magnificent theatre last Friday. I have uploaded the few that I have had time to process here. Wow, what an amazing theatre!

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jun 1, 2011 at 6:10 am

For those interested in help getting the New Bedford Orpheum Restoration project get underway, the next ORPH Inc. meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, June 2th.



Gallery X
169 Williams Street
New Bedford, MA

When: Thursday, June 2nd at 6:00PM

“Our general meeting will table a few new fundraising ideas and will also go over some continuing business as well. There has been a lot going on and our efforts to keep this organization moving forward are ongoing and varied. There will be new business discussed, as well as updates on current affairs.

We do hope you can make it!"

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Columbus Theatre on Apr 11, 2011 at 7:08 am

SAVE THE DATE: The Providence Preservation Society will announce its final list for the 2011 “Ten Most Endangered Buildings” at press conference at the Columbus Theater, May 5th @ noon.

Link: View link

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Columbus Theatre on Mar 31, 2011 at 11:55 am

I was granted permission to photograph the interior of The Columbus Theatre. I also got to meet Mr. Jon Berberian (owner/manager). What a wonderful man. The theatre is incredibly beautiful.

Here is a link to some of the photographs I took. There will be more to come that will be added to the link’s gallery:

View link

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Mar 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Fantastic work MattL!

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Columbus Theatre on Mar 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Recent article in the Projo: View link

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about State Theater on Feb 18, 2011 at 6:32 am

Here are some of my photographs taken inside the theatre this past weekend:

The theatre is in the process of being restored. For more information, please visit:

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jan 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Latest article in the New Bedford Standard-Times on January 4th, 2011:

“OUR VIEW: Reviving the Orpheum

Looking ahead to a new year ripe with possibility, we hope to see progress in 2011 toward restoration of New Bedford’s Orpheum Theatre, a 1912 vaudeville playhouse long closed and profoundly in need of repair.
We’re pleased to hear that one or more nonprofit groups could sign an agreement to purchase the building in the coming months.
Charles Hauck, a member of Orpheum Rising Project Helpers (known as ORPH Inc.) said Monday that Ignacio Diaz, the owner of the building, has given them a price he will accept. About two years ago, ORPH made an offer, but Diaz rejected it, Hauck said.
Now ORPH plans to have the building reappraised to reflect today’s real estate market and make a counter offer. In short order, the group could sit down with Diaz, the Waterfront Historic Area League, and representatives of city government to hammer out a deal, he said. Which entity or entities would take ownership has not been determined.
Fundraising remains a massive obstacle to renovation of the 1,163-seat theater. The plaster decorations are crumbling away, and the building needs new electrical and heating systems â€" just for starters. The work is expected to cost at least $10 million â€" ORPH has received a couple of higher estimates as well â€" and that doesn’t include ongoing maintenance.
First comes the purchase. The building was appraised at about $718,000 a couple of years ago. ORPH hopes to get a better price in the depressed real estate market, but Hauck declined to reveal what the owner is asking.
With such a huge investment needed and questionable demand for a second theater to accompany the city’s majestic Zeiterion, restoration of the Orpheum seems to some like a pipe dream. We prefer to think of it as a long-term dream, one that may begin to solidify with the reconstruction of Route 18, the highway for which much of the Orpheum’s once-thriving mill-working neighborhood was demolished in the 1960s. Plans are under way to redesign the highway to feel more like a neighborhood street, but construction on the southern leg near the Orpheum won’t begin for at least five years, probably more.
In the near term, the theater’s distance from downtown may deter investment. Over the long term, though, the trend toward redevelopment evident in the new Fairfield Inn could expand south into the Orpheum neighborhood. ORPH envisions the reopened theater not as another Zeiterion but a “little sister” to the Z that local performance groups could rent, Hauck said.
The group has a new president, New Bedford independent filmmaker Lance Gunberg, whose recently completed 22-minute documentary, “Orpheum Rising: A Brief History of the French Sharpshooter’s Hall and Orpheum Theatre,” is on the ORPH website,
With fresh leadership and the possibility of an upcoming purchase agreement, we sense good things happening for the Orpheum. Many years will pass before the curtain rises, but the mission to save this grand old theater should continue."

Source: View link

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Nov 4, 2010 at 7:08 am

The New Bedford Orpheum restoration project is featured in today’s issue of the Standard Times newspaper in the Coastin' section: View link

Has information regarding the upcoming documentary and photography at Gallery X in New Bedford, MA.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Oct 5, 2010 at 7:39 am

Orpheum Theater Documentary Premiere showing at 8:15 on Nov. 13th
This documentary has been skillfully directed and produced by Lance Gunberg, (who also directed the acclaimed Hetty Green, “Beyond the Myth” documentary). He has put together an intense history of the Orpheum Theatre and also focuses on its importance to the culture of New Bedford. This will be the first public showing of this truly unique presentation.

O.R.P.H., Inc is a non profit corporation organized to “Preserve, restore, and adapt The Orpheum Theatre and Sharpshooters Hall at 1005 South Water Street”.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Oct 5, 2010 at 7:38 am

Attention Photographers
Call for submissions Deadline Oct. 14,

New Bedford Orpheum Photography Show and Documentary Premiere release

The organization O.R.P.H., INC. (Orpheum Rising Project Helpers) with support of the Community Building Mini-Grant Program of the United Way of Greater New Bedford are proud to announce plans for a photography exhibit to be held at

Gallery X in the Douglass Gallery from November 7th to November 21st,
Opening reception November 13th from 5-8 PM
Orpheum Documentary Premiere showing starts at 8:15
at 169 William Street in New Bedford.

Visitors to the “Rope Light Tour” and to the “Phantoms of the Orpheum”, our recent years' public events events in Orpheum Theatre, are invited to submit photographic images. The intent is to collect and exhibit photographs to document the 1912 theater in its pre-restoration stage. This collection will serve as reminder of our recent past, and for inspiration to the goal to save, restore, and use this historic landmark. O.R.P.H. Inc. requests that photographs taken in the theater be submitted for inclusion in this exhibition celebrating this vaudeville theater.

On October 14th, 2010, the non-profit organization will have an editing group look at entries. The top twenty-five most appropriate will be printed and framed, with a courteous assist by the Community Building Mini- Grant Program of the United Way of Greater New Bedford for the exhibition.

Work submitted will later be shown at other New Bedford locations and eventually be hung in the restored Orpheum Theater.

Please mail or deliver CD or DVDs to
Mr. Charles Hauck, 46 South Sixth Sreet, New Bedford, MA 02740.
For more info contact Charles Hauck (President) 508 996-9768, or Colin Williams (Secretary)

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Capitol Theatre on Aug 3, 2010 at 8:44 am

Latest news on The Capitol Theatre: View link

By Michael Holtzman
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Jul 31, 2010 @ 09:07 PM
Fall River â€"
A University of Colorado professor with city roots recently helped summarize the extraordinary work 13 graduate students have done to rehabilitate the circa 1926 Capitol Theatre.

Robert Flanagan said the spring semester design project at the College of Architecture and Planning was not about elevations, drawings and models placed on walls and tables before the small gathering.

“Itâ€\s all about the people and how they work together,” he said. “What weâ€\re trying to do is save a piece of Fall River, and everyone has a role in it.”

Flanagan compared the Capitol â€" which was shuttered more than a half-century ago â€" to other nearby theater arts revival projects in cities like New Bedford and Woonsocket, R.I. He encouraged owners Donna and Glenn Viveiros to stay with the project.

“Just keep opening the doors, try to keep people involved and move it forward,” Flanagan said.

While the community will help decide whether and how to drive the project forward, students spent thousands of hours recreating what had been, what exists and what could be achieved through their design research and architectural vision.

In their design, they incorporated a square block cultural arts complex around the theater building at Morgan and South Main streets, including a key role for the 150-year-old former N.B. Borden School, an old fire house and adjacent spaces.

It could be an anchor for rebirth by attracting activities from culturally rich Columbia Street and the waterfront, students said in their summary report.

Several of the UColorado students had been to the theater using distance meters, laser measuring devices and other tools to uncover the past and recreate plans that no longer exist. Four months ago, they made a presentation of their work to the owners, Mayor Will Flanagan (no relation), his staff and others interested in the theaterâ€\s revival.

On this day, two of them used video chat to summarize the potential.
Jeffrey Daigle, one of the student project leaders, said revitalizing the theater for live performances and film assumes the rehabilitation project will proceed as funds became available.

The report said many of the 1,500 seats are in poor condition. With code and permit requirements, the total number of seats would likely be reduced to 1,200.

The sound and lighting booth needs to be remodeled to include movie projection. Similarly, rigging, electrical and sound systems need a complete overhaul for the stage. The stage is adequate for musical and dramatic performances, although support spaces do not meet modern standards and need to be wholly reconfigured, the report said.

Student Chris Byerly and another student created a three-dimensional model of the envisioned square block performing arts complex. Their drawings and then-and-now photos showed the dramatic changes since patrons first arrived via street car when the theater opened 84 years ago.

Daigle described how the vacant Borden School, with 20-foot ceilings and old basketball gym, would be conducive for music and dance instruction and theater rehearsals. A parking lot behind the theater could be used as a public park or outdoor performance space, connecting it to the school grounds.

A large costume shop and café fronting South Main Street would and bring life with complementary uses, according to floor design plans by Talia Rubin.

“Theaters generally donâ€\t make money,” Flanagan noted during the program. Itâ€\s the people and other businesses, theaters and cultural arts attractions that revitalize areas and upgrade the economy, he said.

Their conceptual plans included replacing a furniture store next door for arts-related uses, and possibly converting a small plaza across the street for a parking garage.

Ideally, they said, such parking could serve current and future downtown uses.

“Everything is related to the performing arts,” said Rubin.

“If we donâ€\t respect our past, it will get lost,” she said. “I think a lot of us took that route to make it a theater arts complex.”

Others offered support during the hour-long presentation by Flanagan and the two students via video chat.

Darlene Pavao, a teacher with the Resiliency Preparatory School, said her students benefited from what they heard.

“Theyâ€\re excited to see thereâ€\s more for the arts. I think they notice that thatâ€\s missing here,” said Pavao, who has worked with Donna Viveiros on this project.

She said her students, using the school’s print shop, would create a “Capitol Theatre Performing Arts Center” banner for the building.

Alfred Lima, a retired planner and community activist interested in the cityâ€\s history, offered to show how the graduate studentsâ€\ plans can be integrated with the downtown and waterfront areas.

Peter Daley, a recent University of Massachusetts graduate, has been working to identify grant funding sources.

“This is whatâ€\s going to get this theater up and running,” Donna Viveiros said during the presentation. Many times she thanked Flanagan for choosing this project.

“Once the city of Fall River comes in and sees what can be done, it will get a lot more people involved,“ she said. "Theyâ€\ll see the beauty of the theater and what it can do for the city.”

She and her husband bought the building four years ago for $600,000 and started a nonprofit organization. They’re trying to get the property included in the National Register of Historic Places.

She plans to seek grants, make presentations and hold fundraisers using a creative video of the old theater and the grad studentsâ€\ work. Sheâ€\s hoping others will join in.

Flanagan noted the timing of the endeavor coincides with the stateâ€\s plan to build a SouthCoast train station by 2016. “Now Fall River has a chance to catch up. I think the timing is terrific,” said Flanagan, who left the city as a graduate student and whose parents and brother remain here.

“We want the project we came up with to be a starting point,” Daigle said.
Like other students from his team, he promised to stay involved.

E-mail Michael Holtzman at

Copyright 2010 The Herald News. Some rights reserved

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 27, 2010 at 10:21 am

Gerald – I do not know why they are coming up private but I have no other images other than the ones in the link to my SmugMug account. The same ones on SmugMug are the same as on my Flickr account. In other words, you are not missing out on anything.

I cannot wait to contact other theaters in the area to hopefully get a chance to capture more of these gorgeous interiors.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 26, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Thanks Gerald! It was quite an honor to get the chance to photograph such a sleeping beauty. I will mention about the films during the next ORPH Inc. meeting later this week. They might not be able to do anything with the films themselves until the restoration gets under way. When it does, I’ll keep it posted here. Thanks again.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 26, 2010 at 6:46 am

I recently got a personal tour of the inside of the Orpheum by the ORPH, Inc. group. WOW! What a place. Here is a link to my photos taken on the inside and out on June 19th, 2010

View link

All sales for these photos will be donated to to restore the threare.