WORCESTER, MA — In Kelley Square, new life for old theater

VernonIn Kelley Square, new life for old theater
By Richard Duckett | Published by
June 4, 2013

It was probably as large a viewing audience as the Vernon Theatre has had in about 93 years.

The former silent movie theater at 1 Kelley Square literally went silent in 1920, closing its doors after four years of operation because it couldn’t compete with the newer, fancier, Rialto Theater on Millbury Street, according to film producer Scott Fair.

But the Vernon Theatre has remained remarkably intact. On Wednesday about a dozen people, including Worcester inspection officials and people interested in renovating the theater and bringing it back to use as a home for stage productions and movie showings, took a tour of the space on the second floor above the recently closed Salty Dog Saloon.

It has tin ceilings and tin walls from the theater’s original days. The projection booth (minus two projectors) upstairs on a second level is still in place, with two projector portals and two viewing portals so that the projectionist could see the screens and the audience below. There’s even the original electrical panel, with various buttons and handwritten labels such as “piano” and “stage.”

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