Orpheum Theatre

1007 S. Water Street,
New Bedford, MA 02740

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ghamilton on May 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

What is current status,as all references to Orphic no longer operate.??

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 27, 2015 at 11:11 am

ORPHEUM PHOTO, 1941, FROM MGM REPORTS Thanks to Theatre Historical Society of America.

dickneeds111 on July 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Sorry I put the above under the wrong city. It should have been Fall River.

dickneeds111 on July 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I just visited the Orpheums and read there history. They have an error by stating that it is the 2nd oldest Orpheum behind LA in the country. Well the Orpheum in Boston is much older. It was opened in 1852 as the Empire and in 1905 it became the Orpheum and it became a Lowes.

ddestremps on April 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I would like to know how to help my grandfather is Louis Destremps so this is very special to me but I live 1500 miles away

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on April 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Sunday, April 15, 2012 6:00pm until 10:00pm

New Bedford’s Orpheum Theatre turns 100!

Help us celebrate a day in History ….

On April 15, 1912 as people in New Bedford were getting ready for the opening of the Orpheum Theatre, little did they realize that the famed steamship the “RMS Titanic” had struck an iceberg and sank taking along over 1,500 souls on that very same day.

But although the Titanic was lost, the Orpheum Theatre and French Sharpshooters’ Hall opened to large crowds. It was one of the jewels of area’s theaters. It was cherished for its entertainment by many of the local citizens for 46 years until it closed in 1958.

The organization O.R.P.H., INC. (Orpheum Rising Project Helpers) with support of the Community Building Mini-Grant Program of the United Way of Greater New Bedford invite the public to join us to celebrate this 100 year milestone and to highlight plans to save this historic landmark.

Sunday April 15th, 2012 6-10 PM Café Vila Franca Restaurant 601 South Second ST. (one block west of the Orpheum Theatre) New Bedford, MA. $25 donation includes membership to O.R.P.H., Inc. (Orpheum Rising Project Helpers) There will be complimentary appetizers and a cash bar Also, Café Vila Franca has offered O.R.P.H., Inc. a gracious donation for signature drinks sold which includes the “Titanic Martini”!

Get Lucky! There will also be a silent auction and raffle!

There will be entertainment along with memorabilia, photos, and documentary videos on the theater’s history.

ORPH, Inc. would like to thank the following… Mini –Grant Program of the United Way of Greater New Bedford Area, Vila Franca Restaurant, W.H.A.L.E., NBEDC, Central Food Market, Atty. Maja Bozic along with countless supporters and volunteers.

For more info contact ORPH, Inc. president Frank C. Grace at 508-971-4173

O.R.P.H., INC. Mission Statement “To preserve, restore, protect and adapt the building known as the French Sharpshooters Hall and Orpheum Theatre located at 1005 Water Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts; to create and operate a multi-cultural arts facility, to promote arts, culture, diversity and education, to hold, organize and promote events for public participation; to manage the theater to the benefit of its stated purpose, and to do any and all acts permitted by a corporation organized under Chapter 180 of the General Laws of Massachusetts. 2004”

MPol on March 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm

That looks like it was a beautiful theatre, and it has tremendous potential. Here’s hoping that it’s all renovated and ready for use and enjoyment.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on June 1, 2011 at 6:10 am

For those interested in help getting the New Bedford Orpheum Restoration project get underway, the next ORPH Inc. meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, June 2th.



Gallery X
169 Williams Street
New Bedford, MA

When: Thursday, June 2nd at 6:00PM

“Our general meeting will table a few new fundraising ideas and will also go over some continuing business as well. There has been a lot going on and our efforts to keep this organization moving forward are ongoing and varied. There will be new business discussed, as well as updates on current affairs.

We do hope you can make it!"

AlanHemenway on May 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm

My father, Gilbert Hemenway, was a projectionist in New Bedford from the 1930s until 1956. He worked very briefly at the Orpheum in its last days. At that time it was not open full time… just like the New Bedford Theater which was only open during Summer vacation. I only went there once and my father let my mother, sister, and I into the club area, and we played pool.

His older brother Floyd trained him and another brother George at the Allen Theater, located on east side of Acushnet Avenue between Coffin Ave and Phillips Ave. My mother met him there when he was an usher and ticket taker. Just about the whole block burned down in 1940. His early years were at the Bailey Square and the Keith (Fairhaven). My memories are of him working the Capital, Empire, New Bedford, Dartmouth Drive-In, Fairhaven Drive-In, and in Fall River he worked the Plaza and the Embassy. He also worked the Newport Theater (RI) briefly. When the South Pacific tour came to the New Bedford Theater, he ran the spot light.

I posted some hilarious stories of what my father did while at the Plaza. http://cinematreasures.org/theater/12048/

In 1956 we moved to Los Angeles. In 1990, I visited the booth at the Fairhaven Drive-In and everything was still in place. I took the last carbons out of the Peerless carbon arc projector, the final movie run sheet, and the reel of film that they show at Intermission. I also took the ramp speaker that my father strung up along the ceiling to the amplifier when the place first opened. I still have and cherish them. With virtually all of these theaters gone, a piece of me is missing.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on March 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Fantastic work MattL!

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on March 10, 2011 at 8:01 am

Here’s a write up about the history of the Orpheum, with some recent photographs.

View link

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on January 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Latest article in the New Bedford Standard-Times on January 4th, 2011:

“OUR VIEW: Reviving the Orpheum

Looking ahead to a new year ripe with possibility, we hope to see progress in 2011 toward restoration of New Bedford’s Orpheum Theatre, a 1912 vaudeville playhouse long closed and profoundly in need of repair.
We’re pleased to hear that one or more nonprofit groups could sign an agreement to purchase the building in the coming months.
Charles Hauck, a member of Orpheum Rising Project Helpers (known as ORPH Inc.) said Monday that Ignacio Diaz, the owner of the building, has given them a price he will accept. About two years ago, ORPH made an offer, but Diaz rejected it, Hauck said.
Now ORPH plans to have the building reappraised to reflect today’s real estate market and make a counter offer. In short order, the group could sit down with Diaz, the Waterfront Historic Area League, and representatives of city government to hammer out a deal, he said. Which entity or entities would take ownership has not been determined.
Fundraising remains a massive obstacle to renovation of the 1,163-seat theater. The plaster decorations are crumbling away, and the building needs new electrical and heating systems â€" just for starters. The work is expected to cost at least $10 million â€" ORPH has received a couple of higher estimates as well â€" and that doesn’t include ongoing maintenance.
First comes the purchase. The building was appraised at about $718,000 a couple of years ago. ORPH hopes to get a better price in the depressed real estate market, but Hauck declined to reveal what the owner is asking.
With such a huge investment needed and questionable demand for a second theater to accompany the city’s majestic Zeiterion, restoration of the Orpheum seems to some like a pipe dream. We prefer to think of it as a long-term dream, one that may begin to solidify with the reconstruction of Route 18, the highway for which much of the Orpheum’s once-thriving mill-working neighborhood was demolished in the 1960s. Plans are under way to redesign the highway to feel more like a neighborhood street, but construction on the southern leg near the Orpheum won’t begin for at least five years, probably more.
In the near term, the theater’s distance from downtown may deter investment. Over the long term, though, the trend toward redevelopment evident in the new Fairfield Inn could expand south into the Orpheum neighborhood. ORPH envisions the reopened theater not as another Zeiterion but a “little sister” to the Z that local performance groups could rent, Hauck said.
The group has a new president, New Bedford independent filmmaker Lance Gunberg, whose recently completed 22-minute documentary, “Orpheum Rising: A Brief History of the French Sharpshooter’s Hall and Orpheum Theatre,” is on the ORPH website, orphinc.org.
With fresh leadership and the possibility of an upcoming purchase agreement, we sense good things happening for the Orpheum. Many years will pass before the curtain rises, but the mission to save this grand old theater should continue."

Source: View link

ghamilton on December 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

There is only a relative handful of true masterpeices left that are “easily” savable.The UTAH in SLC comes to mind.So many have been lost in criminal manners in the past few years.One in Il and the Raymond come to mind.We,who care,must support this one.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 16, 2010 at 11:38 am

The Orpheum is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1200 seats and open daily.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on November 4, 2010 at 7:08 am

The New Bedford Orpheum restoration project is featured in today’s issue of the Standard Times newspaper in the Coastin' section: View link

Has information regarding the upcoming documentary and photography at Gallery X in New Bedford, MA.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on October 5, 2010 at 7:39 am

Orpheum Theater Documentary Premiere showing at 8:15 on Nov. 13th
This documentary has been skillfully directed and produced by Lance Gunberg, (who also directed the acclaimed Hetty Green, “Beyond the Myth” documentary). He has put together an intense history of the Orpheum Theatre and also focuses on its importance to the culture of New Bedford. This will be the first public showing of this truly unique presentation.

O.R.P.H., Inc is a non profit corporation organized to “Preserve, restore, and adapt The Orpheum Theatre and Sharpshooters Hall at 1005 South Water Street”.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on October 5, 2010 at 7:38 am

Attention Photographers
Call for submissions Deadline Oct. 14,

New Bedford Orpheum Photography Show and Documentary Premiere release

The organization O.R.P.H., INC. (Orpheum Rising Project Helpers) with support of the Community Building Mini-Grant Program of the United Way of Greater New Bedford are proud to announce plans for a photography exhibit to be held at

Gallery X in the Douglass Gallery from November 7th to November 21st,
Opening reception November 13th from 5-8 PM
Orpheum Documentary Premiere showing starts at 8:15
at 169 William Street in New Bedford.

Visitors to the “Rope Light Tour” and to the “Phantoms of the Orpheum”, our recent years' public events events in Orpheum Theatre, are invited to submit photographic images. The intent is to collect and exhibit photographs to document the 1912 theater in its pre-restoration stage. This collection will serve as reminder of our recent past, and for inspiration to the goal to save, restore, and use this historic landmark. O.R.P.H. Inc. requests that photographs taken in the theater be submitted for inclusion in this exhibition celebrating this vaudeville theater.

On October 14th, 2010, the non-profit organization will have an editing group look at entries. The top twenty-five most appropriate will be printed and framed, with a courteous assist by the Community Building Mini- Grant Program of the United Way of Greater New Bedford for the exhibition.

Work submitted will later be shown at other New Bedford locations and eventually be hung in the restored Orpheum Theater.

Please mail or deliver CD or DVDs to
Mr. Charles Hauck, 46 South Sixth Sreet, New Bedford, MA 02740.
For more info contact Charles Hauck (President) 508 996-9768, or Colin Williams (Secretary)

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on July 27, 2010 at 10:21 am

Gerald – I do not know why they are coming up private but I have no other images other than the ones in the link to my SmugMug account. The same ones on SmugMug are the same as on my Flickr account. In other words, you are not missing out on anything.

I cannot wait to contact other theaters in the area to hopefully get a chance to capture more of these gorgeous interiors.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 27, 2010 at 8:33 am

The above pages come out as “private."
You don’t want us to see them????

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on July 26, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Thanks Gerald! It was quite an honor to get the chance to photograph such a sleeping beauty. I will mention about the films during the next ORPH Inc. meeting later this week. They might not be able to do anything with the films themselves until the restoration gets under way. When it does, I’ll keep it posted here. Thanks again.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

Excellent photos! I don’t know how many film reels were spotted inside the projection booth, but they should be examined by a knowledgeable film historian or preservation specialist to see if anything unique and rare is among them. Frequently films long-thought forever lost have turned up in old projection booths. And that place hasn’t shown movies in half a century.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on July 26, 2010 at 6:46 am

I recently got a personal tour of the inside of the Orpheum by the ORPH, Inc. group. WOW! What a place. Here is a link to my photos taken on the inside and out on June 19th, 2010

View link

All sales for these photos will be donated to www.orphinc.org to restore the threare.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 7, 2010 at 10:20 am

Photos of the Orpheum and other New Bedford theatres can be seen in this great set:
View link

brapoza on July 24, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Check out my video from the rope light tour on June 28, 2009

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 13, 2007 at 11:25 am

An article in the New Bedford paper described the October 7, 2007 opening of the theatre for a “rope light tour.”