Zeiterion Performing Arts Theatre

684 Purchase Street,
New Bedford, MA 02741

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Related Websites

Zeiterion Performing Arts Theatre (Official), Zeiterion Theatre history (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Allen Theatres, Zeitz Bros. Circuit

Architects: Joe Booth, Frank Leary, Frank Walker

Functions: Live Performances, Movies

Styles: Neo-Georgian

Previous Names: Zeiterion Theater, State Theatre, Zeiterion Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 508.994.2900

Nearby Theaters

Zeiterion Performing Arts Theatre

The Zeiterion Theater opened on April 2, 1923 with a stage show named “Troubles of 1922” starring George Jessel. It was built as a vaudeville theatre by Barney Zeitz and had a seating capacity of 1,208. The theatre was designed in a Georgian Revival style to the plans of architects Frank Leary & Frank Walker the auditorium featured silk tapestry on the walls, a frieze of gold leaf Grecian dancing muses and a large oval sunset scene on the ceiling where a $7,000 cut-glass Czechoslovakian chandelier hung. Initially the Zeiterion Theater was not an immediate success.

In September 1923 it was taken over by Allen Theatres and renamed State Theatre with the installation of a Wurlitzer Style F, 3 manual theatre pipe organ. Reopening with the New England premiere of D.W. Griffith silent movie “The White Rose starring Mae Marsh. It retained that name until the 1950’s. Over the years the State Theatre hosted 5 World Premieres which included in February 1949 Richard Widmark in "Down to the Sea in Ships when Richard Widmark & Caesar Romero attended in person, and on 26th June 1956 Gregory Peck in "Moby Dick” which was attended by Gregory Peck in person. It was later renamed Zeiterion Theatre and was modernised in 1971. The long-time unused Wurlitzer organ was sold to a private residence and removed from the theatre. The theatre was closed in 1981 and was renovated in 1983 to the plans of architect Joe Booth. In November 1989 the original Wurlitzer organ was re-installed in the theatre.

It now presents live entertainment of many kinds – theatre, opera, ballet, comedy, and music.

The Zeiterion Theatre still shows movies now and then. It was closed for renovations in 2023.

Contributed by Ron Newman

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 13, 2008 at 5:33 am

I know it is beautiful and I have visited it (from Providence) numerous times. Even more beautiful is the long-closed Orpheum Theatre. It was opened to the public for a rope-light tour last October. I went. Did you? A magnificent place that needs a lot of work. I hope they eventually get it restored and put back into used.

zelda08 on July 13, 2008 at 6:33 am

No, I was not able to attend that particular event. The edifice is gorgeous, and I have faith that the city of NB will prioritize the Orpheum’s restoration. Thanks for the website link, btw.

northernmusic on March 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm

According to the Zeiterion Theatre’s manager who I communicated with today (03-25-10) they have 1175 seats.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm

As the State, this theater is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1710 seats and open daily. The seat count is too high.

kk1211kasey on February 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I am actually related to the Zeitz’s. Kopel Zeitz is my great grandfather. If there is anything anyone wants to know my grand mother might be able to help you out.

GeorgeStrum on July 7, 2011 at 9:51 am

Having visited this theatre with EMCATOS on 7/02/11 I did find evidence of “orbs” in some of my pictures an indication of some ghostly presence. The Wurlitzer organ sounded manificent.

barneyzeitz on January 27, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I am named after Barney Zeitz and live on Martha’s Vineyard, grew up in Fall River. Barney Zeitz died in 1946 and I was born in 1951. If anyone knows what happened to Barney I would appreciate knowing. I am an artist and would like to build an artistic marquee for the front of the building.

fander129 on December 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm

to kk1211kasey – Kopel Zeitz is also my great grandfather !! His son Harry was my grandfather. Harry’s daughter Elaine was my mother. My name is Fred Anderson. please email me at and let’s connect. We must be first cousins. (PS, Barney Zeitz from Martha’s Vineyard is also my first cousin. His father Carl was Elaine’s brother and Harry’s son.) I would love to talk to you and your grand mother

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 29, 2019 at 10:25 am

From whalingcity.net/New Bedford Local History.

1923 The State Theater originally called the Zeiterion for the first few months of it’s existence, opened on April 2 of that year with 1,208 seats.

It had a small Wurlitzer 2 manual theatre pipe organ.

The first performance was on April 2, 1923 with a stage show starring George Jessel, titled “Troubles of 1923.”

“Moby Dick”, with Gregory Peck, had its world premiere in 1956.

It has been renamed Zeiterion Theatre, after the Zeitz family that previously owned it, and at one time owned several theaters in New Bedford.

It now presents live entertainment of many kinds — theatre, opera, ballet, comedy, and music. It is also the home of the New Bedford Festival Theater with Armand Marchand as Executive Director and George Charbonneau as Artistic Director.

Here’s the web site for the New Bedford Festival Theater

The web site for the Zeiterion Theater is http://www.zeiterion.org/

Ookamithewolf1 on December 16, 2023 at 6:15 pm

The theater is currently undergoing a massive 32 million renovation (impressive since that’s nearly triple what it cost to build to begin with). The renovation coincides with the theater’s 100th anniversary.

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