Colonial Theatre

144 Thames Street,
Newport, RI 02840

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: E.M. Loew's Theaters Inc., M & P Theaters, Paramount-Publix

Functions: Retail

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Colonial Theatre

A vaudeville and film theatre in the early part of the 20th Century. The Colonial Theatre was opened February 4, 1911. It was operated by the E.M. Loews Theaters Inc. circuit from 1938 and was closed in April 1940.

It was converted into a Newberry’s store and today is an Express clothing store.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 23, 2005 at 4:12 pm

An ad in the Newport Daily News on April 15, 1940 said that on Sunday, April 21 “the Colonial Theatre, with its entire staff, moves to the new E.M. Loew’s Paramount on Broadway.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 3, 2005 at 1:31 am

Here is a a photo of a flooded Thames Street after the hurricane that struck on September 21, 1938. The Colonial Theatre can be seen in the distance.

NativeForestHiller on July 22, 2007 at 1:52 am

Thanks for posting the photos & bringing this matter to our attention. I don’t consider it a good example of adaptive reuse. When did the theater close, and when did it become Express? :(

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 22, 2007 at 4:39 am

The theatre closed in the early 1940s, I believe. It was a Newberry’s (five and dime) store for a long while. It became an Express only a few years ago with the trend toward upscale shops in the area, like the very inappropriate-looking Banana Republic next to the in-restoration Opera House around the corner in Washington Square. After 65 years or more, most Newporters don’t even know there was ever a vaudeville and movie theatre in the building that now houses Express.

NativeForestHiller on July 22, 2007 at 4:44 am

Thank you! I take pride in knowing that its neighbor, Opera House cinemas, is undergoing a restoration at the very least.

KJB2012 on September 1, 2007 at 1:11 pm

I grew up in Newport and never heard of the Colonial. Some of the older folks would mention the Paramount, but not the Colonial. So I’m totally surprised that it lasted as a theatre up to 1940! And even more surprised that the building is still there.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 1, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Yes, sure is still there, as an Express store. I used to go there when it was Newberry’s and the interior still had some things, if you looked closely, that suggested a former movie theatre, something evident now only from the outside rear and side.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 4, 2010 at 9:28 am

End of the Colonial Theatre in 1940, as reported by Boxoffice magazine in its issue of April 27, 1940:

“E. M. Loew circuit took over operation of the Paramount, Newport, with manager Gerald G. Wagner and his entire staff at the Colonial moving to the Paramount. Colonial, occupied by Loew for the past two years has been sold to Miss Ruth L. Weiss of Boston and is scheduled to be torn down and replaced with a new $45,000 store for J. J. Newberry Co. According to Wagner, the same policy maintained at the Colonial will be continued at the Paramount; dual subsequent run features with added vaudeville on Sundays.”

[Note: the Colonial was not torn down but was converted to retail and became a Newberry store afterward.]

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm

In September 1920, this theatre was part of the celebration of the 3rd annual Paramount Week. CLICK HERE for all participating RI area theatres and the titles of the films shown.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 20, 2023 at 3:37 am

The July 17, 1934 issue of Film Daily had this item about the Colonial: “Newport, R. I.—The Colonial, M & P.-Publix house, has reopened with pictures and vaudeville. The manager is John Connolly. Elmer Taylor is assisting.” As Gerald A. DeLuca’s comment from 2011 notes the connection between the Colonial and Paramount, it appears that this house was operated as part of the Paramount-Publix chain for much of its history,

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