Palace Theatre

80 Hanover Street,
Manchester, NH 03101

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Palace Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Shea Theatres

Architects: Leon H. Lempert, Jr.

Functions: Performing Arts

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 603.668.5588

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Palace Theatre

When the Palace Theatre opened on April 9, 1915, it was billed as one of the grandest theaters Manchester had ever seen. It was designed by architect Leon Lempert, Jr. It could boast that it was the first theater in the state that was both fireproof and air-conditioned (fans blew over huge blocks of ice under the stage).

The Palace Theatre opened with a live musical, "The Modern Eve", and in addition to live theater, vaudeville acts played its stage from 1915 until about 1930. Among those to play the Palace Theatre in Manchester included Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Red Skelton and the Marx Brothers.

Starting in 1930, and continuing into the 1960’s, the Palace Theatre switched to a movies-only policy. However, by the 1960’s, the Palace Theatre began to screen adult features.

In the late-1960’s, it was closed, and taken over by New Hampshire College for additional classroom space.

After the college moved out, the auditorium seats were taken out, and the Palace Theatre was used as a warehouse for a couple years, falling into serious disrepair.

In 1974, Manchester’s mayor Sylvio S. Dupuis and lawyer John MacLane began a campaign to return the former theatre to life, and with financial assistance, the theatre was restored to its original glory, including new orchestra seating. The Palace Theatre was reopened later in 1974, as a performing arts center, with nearly as much fanfare as almost sixty years earlier when it first opened its doors.

In 1980, a burst pipe sent over 70,000 gallons of water cascading from the balcony down to the main floor, causing some damage, but quickly repaired. Four years later, a disastrous fire caused heavy damage to many of the Palace’s neighbors on Hanover Street, but thanks to its fireproof building material, the theater and its immediate neighbors were unscathed by the blaze.

The nearly 900-seat Palace Theatre continues to be one of the premier performing arts centers in the state of New Hampshire, as well as home to the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra and the Opera League of New Hampshire.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

roberttoplin on April 19, 2004 at 3:36 pm

Qualification: Architect:Leon H. Lempert,Jr. Firm: Leon H. Lempert & Son, of Rochester,N.Y. It was the firm of the architect’s father, Leon H. Lempert,Sr., who turned the firm over to his son in 1906 and who passed in May of 1909. Jr. died Jan.14,1934.

Patsy on March 8, 2005 at 6:38 pm

Would love to see this theatre in person as it has been described as showing similar interior to the unrestored Carolina Theatre in Charlotte NC.

Patsy on March 8, 2005 at 6:41 pm

After reading this theatre’s life history it is truly amazing that it still with us today. Many theatres with less history don’t make it, but this one survived through many changes.

Patsy on September 7, 2006 at 4:28 pm

Lost Memory: Neat night shot of the vertical PALACE marquee.

kathy2trips on May 28, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Featured on “Ghostbusters” on the SciFi Channel tonight. Very interesting episode.

kathy2trips on May 28, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Duh….it’s “GhostHUNTERS” on SciFi. “Ghostbusters” is a movie. Double duh!

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on September 7, 2010 at 4:46 pm

From the early 1900s a postcard view of the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

mark edmunds
mark edmunds on June 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Posted some photos from 5/2011. Camera date wrong. Staff let me in around noon took a few pics.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 2, 2015 at 11:17 am

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Palace; it’s Card # 498. Address is Hanover St. There is an exterior photo dated May 1941. Condition is Fair. The report says it was over 15 years old, and showing MGM movies. There were 612 seats on the main floor and 394 in the balcony, total 1,006. On the marquee is posted “Every Friday – Saturday Big Stage and Screen Shows”.

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