1 Kelley Square,
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Functions: Office Space
The building which housed the Vernon Theatre still stands in Kelley Square - a 3-story yellow-brick structure. The ground floor housed the Salty Dog Saloon until recently and is now use for office space.
The Vernon Theatre was an “upstairs house” located up on the second and third floors. It operated as a silent ‘blue collar’ movie theatre from 1916 to 1920. I was one of four silent movie theatres in Worcester at that time, others being the Gem Theatre, Columbus Theatre and the Bijou Theatre. When the Rialto Theatre opened in 1918 on Millbury Street, its ritzier surroundings (and cushioned seats) took business away from these smaller theatres and the Vernon Theatre was the first to close.
The 2-port projection booth is still intact, but most traces of the theatre such as its seats and stage are long gone. The tin ceiling survives as do the places where the chandeliers used to hang. There was an arts group interested in using the space for live events and for film festivals under the name “Vernon Theatre Cinematheque”. A report of their activities appeared in the Worcester Telegram, June 4, 2013, but the scheme never got off the ground.
The building was purchased by Baystate Investment Fund LLC. Edward J. Murphy, a principle of Baystate Investment then in January 2016 obtained a waiver from the Worcester Historical Commission on demolition. His plans are to lower the original theatre windows and convert the second floor, where the theatre was housed, into 10 apartments. Murphy had previously indicated he would be moving into one of the commercial portions of the building and hoped to entice a chain store or bank to take up residence where the Salty Dog Saloon used to be.
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