The Bristol Enterprise  

Thursday, 15 April 1937 – page 1

Theatre, Restaurant, Store Under One Roof

Reconstruction of Bristol Theatre for Capacity of 400; Store and Restaurant Connected

An enlarged theatre, a restaurant and store of generous proportions under one roof is the story in brief of the remodeled building decided upon yesterday by the Interstate Theatre Corporation, which included the Bristol Theatre.

Plans were completed this week for the enlargement of the theatre, representatives of the company being here this week.

The Grace Louise, formerly the Westfall café, will be moved to the west, and the theatre entrance brought forward 18 feet towards the street, and space built for a general store 19 x 35 feet, which will be for rental.  One roof covers all.

The theatre now accommodating about 250 will be enlarged to capacity of 400 or more, with the same incline floor as now and with a balcony.

Following the show next Saturday evening, the theatre will be closed for a month or six weeks.

The manager, William L. Lydston, has been in Boston this week in connection with the proposed changes, and during the weeks that pictures are suspended he will devote his time to several theatres for pointers on the business.  He will first be in Rochester for two weeks; one week in St. Johnsbury, and a week in Vergennes, Vt.

Bids are being received for the various parts of the work.

The Bristol Enterprise  

Thursday, 11 June 1937 – page 1

Pictures Resumed At Bristol Theatre

Structure Matches Many City Theatres—New Throughout, Modern and Best in All Appointments

The new Bristol theatre, after eight weeks suspension of business and a grand rush by many laborers, opened auspiciously Saturday.  There was a full house for the first session and many for the second, the two attractions of the evening being Patsy Kelley and Jack Haley in “Pick A Star”, and Pat O’Brien and Henry Fonda in “Slim”.

Bristol now has a theatre of which the town may will be proud, matching many city theatres.  For the opining, the attractive lounge was made still more attractive by many cut flowers, gifts of friends.  In the matter of sound, there is nothing better, and 450 upholstered were greatly appreciated.  The air conditioning when completed this week, will be another special feature.

During the evening, Karl G. Cavis, in behalf of Bristol friends, presented William L. Lydston, manager, with an electric lamp, chair and smoking set for his office at the theatre, the gift of friends, in appreciation of many favors.  Mr. Lydston expressed sincere thanks.

Victor McFarland of Plymouth is operator; Mrs. Lester Wells, cashier; Berne and Wayne Gray, ushers.  Miss Ruth Toby of Plymouth assisted Mrs. Wells on the opening night.  Allard and Sherb Graves have been on hand to direct more of less of the work and continue in charge of the theatre.

The new Bristol Theatre, one of the Interstate chain, has a balcony of the so-called stadium type with each seat on a rizer (sic), or step, elevated above the seat in front of it.  The main floor is pitched with a downward inclination of approximately one inch to the foot, and as there are no posts or any other obstructions every seat in the theatre will have a perfect line of vision to the stage.  The seats are all of the upholstered spring cushion type, such are used in the country’s finest theatres, and offer the utmost in comfort.

The stage is rather novel, inasmuch as the architects have strayed from the more or less stereotyped stage commonly used and have employed a modern type of Grecian stage.  The auditorium is beautifully and practically decorated with the simple motif that bespeaks the art of the master, and all of this has been done to properly create or enhance the acoustical properties of the auditorium to eliminate echo and reverberations.  The sound equipment is of the very last word; it is know as “Microphonic” because it so accurately and faithfully reproduced sound that it has been likened to the reflection produced by a mirror.  The sound equipment is manufactured by the Western Electric Company, which is a subsidiary of the Bell Telephone Co.  The Motion Picture Projectors are Simplex type and are equipped with a new type of high intensity arc lamps and use the finest and most highly corrected motion picture objective lenses that are made.

There are two box-offices in the Bristol Theatre, on typical theatrical box-office in the vestibule at the sidewalk and another in the inner lobby, for use in cold or inclement weather, so that the patrons will be protected under all kinds of weather conditions.  There is a marquee which is the width of the sidewalk and much wider than the entrance to the theatre.

The lobby is beautifully decorated and brilliantly illuminated but it is not overdone with advertising matter, as is frequently the case.  Next is the lounge, artistically done in English Colonial style, the walls being sheathed with knotty pine stained natural finish.  The ceiling is studded with heavy exposed timbers.  The floor is carpeted throughout and lined with one-half inch thick sanitary hair felt padding.  After the lounge are the ladies’ and gentlemen’s rest rooms.  From the lounge one passes through a ramped vomitory into the main auditorium.  He may either take a seat on the main orchestra floor or step up into the stadium balcony.  A large galvanized iron duct is for heating, ventilating and air conditioning.  The new theatre will have a most modern and up-to-date heating and ventilating system.  The heating will be done by automatic oil burner with thermostat control, and the summer ventilation, likewise to be controlled by the atmospheric requirements.

There are five emergency exits, two at the front of the auditorium near the state, two at the front of the balcony and the main entrance, which is also an exit when put to reverse use, it being equipped with four pair of five foot wide doors which open outward.



The Bristol Enterprise

Thursday, 23 December 1954 - page 1

New, Wide Screen For Bristol Theater

The Bristol Theatre has announced that installation of the new wide screen has begun and the work will be completed for the first showing on Christmas Day.

The new screen, more than twice the width of the present one, will cover the entire proscenium of the theatre and will make it possible to show all the attractions in the various scopes now being produced in Hollywood.

The first of these attractions, the rollicking musical comedy “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, a Cinemascope picture which is photographed and reproduced through panamorphic (sic) lens, will be shown as the opening attraction on Christmas Day.

This new installation gives the patrons of Bristol Theatre all the new developments that have come out of Hollywood up to the present time and assures everyone of being able to see all the great attractions that have been planned for 1955.

Bristol audiences have long enjoyed the early viewing of many of the industry’s best pictures.


The Bristol Enterprise

Thursday, 31 March 1960 - page 1

Theatre Collapses; Rebuilding Decision To Be Made Shortly   

BRISTOL – Damage caused by the collapse of the Bristol Theatre roof and sidewalls last Friday and Saturday has been estimated at more than $60,000.00 by the resident manage, Malcolm Kenniston, of Plymouth.

Mr. Kenniston told the Enterprise this morning that final decision to rebuild the unit would have to be made by its owner, Allard Graves.  Mr. Graves is in Arizona and is expected here early next week to inspect the damage. 

It has been theorized by most that the heavy weight of the snow on the theatre roof caused it to collapse on Friday, [24 March 1960] followed by the bucking of the sidewalls the next day [Saturday, 25 March 1960]. 

The theatre, over the past few years, has been used only during the summer months and was unoccupied and unheated at the time of the disaster. 

Persons occupying the front of the building has been quoted as reporting “creaking and sharp cracking noises” before the collapse, but several investigations inside the theatre auditorium produced no clues as to what was about to happen. 

Mr. Kenniston told the Enterprise that the snow accumulation on the theatre roof was not responsible for the collapse and that it was due instead to high wind, or a “freak twister.” 

“In fact,” he said, “we’ve just received and paid a bill from a local contractor for shoveling snow from the theatre roof this winter.” 

No damage was reported from the collapse to the Grace-Louise Restaurant, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Riley, or Chi-Chee’s Dress Shop, owned by Mrs. John C. Greenan. 

Bristol was full of interested and curious spectators Sunday, many of whom were amused to be able to look through the front door of the theatre and see blue sky inside instead of a viewing screen. 

Mr. Kenniston reported to the Enterprise that most of the projection and sound equipment was a total loss.  The full extent of the other damage has not been fully established. 

Other collapses in the area were also reported this week. 

The roof and sides of the old “picker-stick” shop at the rear of the Bristol Diner collapsed.  The building has been vacant for some time and is owned by Mr. and Mrs. George Totas. Also reported was the collapse of a large porch roof at Camp Wi-Co-Su-Ta in Hebron.  

Amount of damage was undetermined.


I have found no further mention of the theater in the Enterprise.  The remains of the theater were torn down and removed later that spring.  A nondescript concrete block building housing the local offices of an oil company now occupy the site.

A picture of the Theatre circa October 1951 and scans of the 30 July 1939 Bristol Movie News newsletter can be found here.


Page posted 06 October 2004
Updated 03 June 2005