William Carlos Williams Center for the Performing Arts

1 Williams Plaza,
Rutherford, NJ 07070

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Additional Info

Architects: John Adolph Emil Eberson, Abram Preiskel

Functions: Performing Arts

Previous Names: Rivoli Theatre, George W. Newman Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 201.939.6969

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William Carlos Williams Center for the Performing Arts

Constructed as the 2,200-seat Rivoli Theatre to the plans of architect Abram Preiskel, it opened April 22, 1922. The building featured a marble facade, ornate proscenium and a centerpiece chandelier made up of 62,000 Czechoslovakian crystals. The theatre played host to vaudeville acts such as Abbott & Costello and the Glen Miller Orchestra, plus movies. movies. It was remodelled in 1936 to the plans of architect John Eberson. The Rivoli Theatre was partially destroyed in a fire January 9 1977, when most damage was done to the lobby that fronted onto Sylvan Street.

Repairs were carried out and the theatre was reopened in 1982 as a performing arts theatre named George W. Newman Theatre. In October 2012 following damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, the theatre was closed as a safety measure. By 2021 it was renamed William Carlos Williams Center for the Performing Arts. Under new ownership, the Rivoli auditorium has been reopened for events such as concerts, specialty movies, and other live events. Plans are underfoot for an extensive renovation/restoration. The centerpiece chandelier is still hanging in the center of the ornate auditorium. There are 642 fixed seats, and a general admission section that can hold hundreds more.

On April 27, 1982 the Williams Cinemas 1 & 2 were opened in the lower level of the new lobby section of the Rivoli Theatre (which have their own page on Cinema Treasures as the Williams Center Cinemas). At some point a third screen was added to the cinema.

Contributed by Mark Zurge

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

fotogbill on June 28, 2015 at 3:45 am

“Save the Williams Center” is seeking advice on converting their cinemas from film to digital projection. These cinemas are a vital part of the William Carlos Williams Center. A conversion must happen soon or the entire center, including the Rivoli Theatre may close for good and be demolished. We need help and smart advice! Please contact me at > Billy

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm

I just posted two images in Photos about the lobby fire that closed the Rivoli on January 9, 1977. The last movie to play the Rivoli was “Across the Great Divide”. How I would’ve loved to see “Star Wars”, which came out later that year, at the Rivoli.

atmos on May 1, 2016 at 10:53 am

Rivoli opened 22 Apr 1922.

fotogbill on July 8, 2016 at 9:01 pm

So here is the update. The Williams Center / Rivoli has just negotiated and taken delivery (God they were heavy) three digital projectors that will be installed and will replace the film projectors. This will allow the Williams Center Cinemas to reopen and run first run movies and other cinematic offerings.

fotogbill on July 8, 2016 at 9:03 pm

If you would like to contact me directly please use >

fotogbill on November 27, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Thanks for posting the top photo from my book Rutherford: Images of America (Arcadia)I am a Rutherford, NJ Historian and on the board of trustees that is actively saving the Williams Center / Rivoli. We currently screen first run digitally projected movies, host live shows and events in our three newly renovated Center Cinemas, lobby, concession area and upstairs terrace. However, the Rivoli stage is currently dark as some of the ceiling has allegedly been deemed to be unsafe. But please know that we are seeking partners in the Rivoli’s preservation and we will reopen the full house in all its splendor. If interested in partnering with us, asking a historical question or just offering suggestions please send me an email at . Thanks for your interest in preserving and reopening the Williams Center / Rivoli. Oh btw. we are hosting the premier of the exceptional movie “Paterson” on December 12th, 2016 with Director Jim Jarmusch and his production staff on hand. The screen play involves a bus driver named Paterson who drives a bus in Paterson, NJ and is loosely based on the poetic inspirations of poet Dr.William Carlos Williams who lived all his life just a block away from the William’s Center in our town.

fotogbill on November 27, 2016 at 7:12 pm

You can actively see our progress, read our history and view images of the Rivoli and Williams Center at www.WilliamsCenter.org

DavidZornig on June 27, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Bergen County is auctioning off the William Center this Summer.
Save The William Center link below, with auction link within.


ridethectrain on June 28, 2021 at 4:02 am

Please update, total seats for the Williams Cinemas which open on April 27, 1982 as a expansion to the Newman Theatre is live performance (Grand Opening ad in photos) is 343 seats. Theatre 1 189 Theatre 2 89 Theatre 3 65 Theatre open as 2 screens expanded to 3 screens later on.

Newman Theatre which is performing arts is 692 Should have seperate page. This complex is like SOPAC that maybe the Newman theatres should have a separate page similar to SOPAC

see article in photos section about the cinemas and expansion

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on July 17, 2023 at 4:24 pm

I photographed the Williams Center/Rivoli Theatre a while ago. Here’s some photos and a short write up at After the Final Curtain.

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