Art Theatre

1878 Purchase Street,
New Bedford, MA 02740

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Nickel Theatre, Casino Theatre

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Art Theatre

Opened in 1908 as the Nickel Theatre. In 1910, this 600-seat neighborhood theatre was known as the Casino Theatre when there was a policy change instituted in the late-1940’s that lasted until about 1951, judging from advertisements in the New Bedford Standard-Times.

By 1950 it had been renamed Art Theatre and become an art house that presented very carefully selected films, usually British, Italian, French. The management must have been very fond of classical music and opera because many operatic and other serious music films were presented. They would occasionally be augmented by a live vocalist or other (local) artist. The programs ran for one week only. There was one evening show and a matinee on Thursdays and Sundays. Advertisements described the place as being “your intimate cinema”. The whole affair looks to have been a true labor of love.

I don’t believe that apart from this cinema there was ever any long-term art house in New Bedford.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 5, 2006 at 3:57 pm

There is a MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Casino Theatre at 1878 Purchase St. in New Bedford, with a facade photo dated May 1941. It had a very fancy facade with a canopy over the sidewalk and a vertical sign above. To its right were 3 large old wood-frame houses. The Report states that the Casino was not a MGM customer, that it was over 15 years old, that it was in Poor condition, and had 700 seats, all on one floor.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 13, 2007 at 7:27 pm

An article in the New Bedford paper described the October 7, 2007 opening of the Orpheum theatre for a “rope light tour.” In it some of the history of the ownership of the Casino is referred to.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm

What is now at this location?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 25, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Looks like a garage next to a residence. You can use Google Maps, type in the address, take it to street level, swivel, and see images of all that is around. Can’t pinpoint where the theatre was.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I’ve never been able to tell from Google Maps whether I’m pointing at the even or odd side of a street, though.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on June 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm

About all I do in that case Ron, is find a business or two in the immediate area, Google them to get their exact address, and go from there. Occasionally addresses change. An old theater may be 431 Main St, but the new business in the same old building may use 433 Main St, as an example.

TLSLOEWS on June 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Sometimes the google maps will tell you what is at that address now,but of course it does not in this case.And a SiliconSam states sometimes the address change anyway.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 16, 2010 at 7:27 pm

As the Casino, this theater is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook, with 600 seats open daily.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 7, 2021 at 10:36 am

“The Art Theatre, New Bedford, operated by Irving Conn the last few years, has been taken back by owner Henry Tobin, who will continue its art policy.” —notice in Boxoffice Magazine, December 30, 1950.

Ookamithewolf1 on March 19, 2024 at 11:07 pm

The theater at this address is listed as “The Nickle” in the 1908 and 1909 city directories, and listed as the Casino from 1910 onward, so it most likely opened in 1908.

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