East Greenwich, R.I., historic Odeum theater gets new lease on life
By Barbara Polichetti
Journal Staff Writer
The historic Odeum Theater on Main Street in East Greenwich has been closed for about three years, but the nonprofit group the owns it again plans to raise $200,000 to reopen it.
The Providence Journal / Barbara Polichetti
EAST GREENWICH — It looks as though the storied Odeum theater will have at least one more encore.
The 1920s-era theater, which reinvented itself as an arts center to survive competition from multiscreen cinema complexes, has been closed for nearly three years because it did not have the money to install indoor sprinklers and make other changes required by stricter state fire-safety laws.
But now, a modification of the state law and a vote of support from the town has the nonprofit organization that runs the theater redoubling its efforts to see its Main Street marquee lit again.
“We’re more optimistic now that we can bring the building into compliance,” said Franklin S. Prosnitz, president of the Odeum Theater Corporation. “We’re ready to work with the town, the state and the local fire marshal.”
Prosnitz said the nonprofit group was stymied a few years ago when tough new fire regulations would have required the old theater to have a full interior sprinkler system because it can hold in excess of 300 people.
That project alone would have cost more than $200,000 and wouldn’t have addressed other upgrades — aesthetic and structural — that the building needs, he said.