Universal Theatre

105 Main Street,
Fitchburg, MA 01420

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 8, 2018 at 2:14 am

The October 19, 1914, issue of the Fitchburg Sentinel said that the new Universal Theatre would open the following day.

No fewer than four good-sized new theaters opened in Fitchburg in 1914, perhaps a record for a city of its size. The other three were the Lyric (later the Saxon) on Main Street, Shea’s Theatre (later the Gem) on Day Street, and the Rambeau Theatre (later the Strand) in the Cleghorn Square neighborhood. Of these four, only the Rambeau/Strand is still standing.

The January 13, 1970 Sentinel reported that the Universal Theatre building was undergoing demolition. E. M. Loew had operated the house until the late 1940s. In 1955, the theater was renovated and reopened by Francis A. Fasano, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Fasano, who had once operated the Cumings Theatre. Despite the new CinemaScope screen and projection equipment, the reopened Universal was not a great success, and Fasano closed the house for the last time in May, 1960.

One surprising thing in this article is the line “…a large pipe organ is being torn down with the building.” It was unusual for a disused organ to still be sitting in an old theater as late as 1970. Most of them had been either dismantled and parted out, or snapped up by collectors or churches by that time. I’ve found no other information about this lost organ.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 14, 2010 at 7:04 pm

The Universal is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 745 seats and open 6 days/week.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

In the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac, the Universal in Fitchburg is listed as part of E.M. Loew’s Theatres of Boston. At the time, that circuit also ran the Lyric and the Majestic in Fitchburg.