Blanchard's Theatre

Main Street and Elm Street,
Southbridge, MA 01550

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Additional Info

Architects: Louis Destremps, William C. Riseman

Firms: William Riseman Associates

Styles: Atmospheric

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Blanchard's Theatre

Located at the corner of Main Street and Elm Street. The 876-seat Blanchard’s Theatre was opened on November 28, 1911. It was mainly a live theatre, but also screened movies. In 1916 the Blanchard Brothers built the Hippodrome behind their theatre, which later became the Strand Theatre and has its own page on Cinema Treasures.

Blanchard’s Theatre was destroyed by a fire in 1927 and a new building was built on the site, which today operates as a church.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

atmos on November 18, 2007 at 7:28 am

The building was erected in 1916 by the Blanchard brothers for use as a dance hall and roller skating rink.Originally known as The Hippodrome it was also used for vaudeville and converted into a cinema in 1926.This information from this website –

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 15, 2008 at 2:34 pm

The 2 photos, from 1920 and 1927, posted by Ken Mc on Nov 17 2007 are of the same building, from 2 different vantage points. The theatre entrance bears no resemblance at all to the Strand’s entrance in the 1941 MGM photo and Lost’s photo of Oct 28 2005. The newer entrance is a small 2-story building with a store on the left and the theatre lobby on the right. After the 1927 fire, were they able to salvage the auditorium, or was the entire theatre complex of new construction ? Was the Strand which opened in 1926 a reworking of the Blanchard Theatre; then it was burned out in 1927? Then the Strand was rebuilt with a new entrance, or was the entire post-fire Strand Theatre a new building ??

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

The 1927 Film Daily Yearbook lists 3 movie venues for Southbridge: the Plaza Theater, 600 seats; the Phelps Theatre, 725 seats; and Blanchard’s Theatre, 876 seats.

Cinerama on June 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm

I lived in Southbridge on Mechanic Street till 1961 and use to walk to a movie theatre. It might have been this one.

Cinerama on November 3, 2015 at 3:09 pm

I uploaded three pictures that I found searching on the web

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 4, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Of the 3 old photos posted, only the second one which shows a small 2-story building matches the photo on the 1941 MGM Theatre Report for the Strand on Elm St. in Southbridge. The big color photo appears to have 1960-era cars in it, with a Strand Theatre at the far left end of the business block. That photo isn’t anything like the 1941 MGM photo.

MikeMarketti on January 6, 2018 at 10:33 am

I live in Southbridge. This picture is of a building on Main St. which the Strand Theatre had a sign attached to. The theatre was behind this building. This building burned in 1926, but still stands today. It may have had a theatre in it, but it was not the Strand. The Strand was demolished in the 60s. It is now a parking lot. Thanks

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 8, 2021 at 5:23 pm

Blanchard’s Theatre and the Strand were two different houses, and the Strand’s predecessor, the Hippodrome, was not a theater but a multi-use public hall. Blanchard’s Theatre was a 1,100 seat house built behind the 1860 Edwards Block and opened on November 28, 1911. Its entrance was on Main Street, and can be seen in the 1927 post-fire photo on the photo page. Like the later Strand, Blanchard’s was designed by architect Louis Destremps, and though built primarily for stage productions it was equipped to show movies from the time of its opening.

The Blanchard Brothers built the Hippodrome on a large lot behind the Blanchard Theatre in 1916, and for about a decade it was used as a dance hall, skating rink, and exhibition space. In late 1925 the Blanchards decided to convert the Hippodrome building into a regular theater, and it opened as the Strand on January 14, 1926. A long entrance hall led from the entrance on Elm Street to the auditorium, which seated nearly 2,000. A commodious stage with a proscenium forty feet wide was provided for vaudeville and other theatrical productions.

The Blanchard brothers operated the Strand until their retirement, after which it became part of the Interstate Theatres chain (the one based in New England, not to be confused with the Interstate Theatres chain based in Texas.) The last show at the Strand was on February 28, 1965. Historic aerial views show that the theater’s entrance building had been demolished by 1966, but the auditorium building was still standing as late as 1977. By 1992 it too was gone, replaced by a parking lot.

Blanchard’s Theatre operated at least until the fire of January 13th, 1927. I don’t know if it reopened after that, but the building was rebuilt and the likely address of the theater, 293 Main Street, is today the home of a Spanish language Evangelical church, but it’s impossible to tell from the street views whether the church is in the old auditorium or merely in the storefronts where (and adjacent to) the theater’s entrance was.

The vanished Strand Theatre is still recalled in Southbridge’s street nomenclature. The alley that runs between the rebuilt Blanchard building and the site of the Strand appears on maps as Strand Place.

This web page has a description of the Strand from a Southbridge Evening News article published at the time if its opening. This page has a few photos and some ads and flyers published by the theater in its heyday.

robboehm on December 12, 2021 at 5:59 pm

Joe there is some confusion here. The picture of the supposed Blanchard’s Theatre after it was destroyed by a fire in 1927 has a vertical that reads Strand. Yet the description of the Strand which you’ve linked indicated that the former Hippodrome became the Strand in January 1926. So either the picture of the charred Strand is not Blanchard’s or the article has the wrong date. I suspect the former.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2021 at 12:52 am

The Strand was up the block to the left. The Strand vertical sign was put on the Blanchard’s building to attract people passing along Main Street. If you look closely you’ll see a small arrow pointing up Elm Street at the bottom of the sign. The entrance to Blanchard’s Theatre was near the center of the Main Street side of the building, with the word “THEATRE” above it.

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