Palace Theater

29 N. Main Street,
South Norwalk, CT 06854

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Functions: Recording Studio

Previous Names: Roodner Theatre, Palace Performing Arts Center, Mayfair Theater

Nearby Theaters

Marquee for the Palace Theater - October 2010

The Palace Theater in South Norwalk was built by Samuel Roodner. When it opened on December 21, 1914, the Palace Theater contained 1,149 seats.

Over the years, the Palace Theater hosted renowned performers such as Enrico Caruso, Mae West, Harry Houdini, W.C. Fields, among others. At one time, the Palace Theater was known as "the theater you play before you play the Palace Theater in New York." By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

The popular movie house closed August 28, 1966 and remained dormant until 1975 when Russell Fratto purchased the building with plans for revitalizing it into The Palace Performing Arts Center.

The building for a few years served as an adult movie house called the Mayfair.

Fratto had founded the Ballet Etudes Academy in 1950 and was looking for a theater for his ballet repertory company.

Rehabilitation work was begun on restoring the auditorium and later, the lobby and foyer were remodeled. A second story became offices and a dance studio.

In 1980-81, The Palace Performing Arts Center presented a mini-season of live ballet, magic, ragtime and opera.

In 1982, with the downturn in the economy and cut backs in funding programs that reduced contributions to the arts nationwide, Fratto terminated programming at the theater.

The theater faced bankruptcy and the wrecking ball.

In 1983 the spaced was leased to The Palace Production Center which invested over $100,000 to remodel the space with completely new electrical, heating, and air conditioning systems.

In 1985 The Palace Production Center exercised an option to purchase the old theater and became the latest owners and heirs to the historic Palace Theater.

The theater was then used for readings and rehearsals. It was preparing to undergo restoration work to restore the Palace Theater back to its grand luster. But this was not to be, and the building began use as a production recording studio.

Contributed by Anna

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

shoeshoe14 on December 5, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Also known as the Roodner Theatre. Listed as this in the 1914 City Directory showing vaudeville and moving pictures. Changes to the Palace in 1915.

shoeshoe14 on December 5, 2007 at 12:53 pm

In the 1972 City Directory, it’s known as the Mayfair Palace Theatre.
It’s the Mayfair in 1973, 1976 and 1977. In 1979 it changes to the Palace Performing Arts Center.

shoeshoe14 on March 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Corrections from above. Back to the stage, the balcony is intact as are the two round and decorative boxes at either end. There’s a wall about 10 feet in from the front of the balcony that goes to the ceiling because there are offices in there.

shoeshoe14 on March 17, 2008 at 2:01 pm

I was here again as were 100 others. The CT Film Fest was showing movies last Friday to Sunday across the street at the Sono Regent 8 (Bow Tie Cinemas) in theatre 3. The Palace Digital Studios held a benefit at sliding scale for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of CT and it was very nice. Everything was black and food was plentiful.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on August 26, 2016 at 11:10 am

The Palace closed permanently as a cinema on August 28th, 1966, “for lack of business,” according to a report in The New York Times on the following day. In recent years, the Palace “catered mainly to a Spanish-speaking clientele,” the NYT claimed, without going into detail.

terrybritton on September 3, 2016 at 1:06 pm

My grandfather, Leon Britton, married to Bertha Britton and living in Norwalk, CT at 4 Obrien St, was the music director for the Palace during its vaudeville and silent movie heyday, and he played the piano scores by Charlie Chaplin for Chaplin’s movies, plus any other scores handed to him for the vaudeville acts, of course. It is my understanding that he also played one of the “Great Wurlitzer Organs” that was installed there, but I don’t know of that for certain. He met all the greats. The South Norwalk Palace was near the train station, and every weekend hordes of critics from the various newspapers would arrive from NYC to review the acts whose next stop would be the Palace Theater in Manhattan. I never met him, for unfortunately he died before I was born from Tuberculous brought about from weakness to his lungs coming from exposure to mustard gas during WWI. I certainly wish I had more than vague stories to go by! Those must have been exciting times!

DavidZornig on June 17, 2021 at 8:14 am

Website for current tenant Media Benders, with a link at the bottom to donate to help save the Palace Theater.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on July 17, 2023 at 8:01 am

I visited this theater just before the pandemic. Here’s a short write up and some of my photos at After the Final Curtain

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