Locations >> Buildings by Neighborhood >> Elmhurst: Castle Theatre


The Castle Theatre on Chalkstone Avenue is one of those typical old neighborhood movie houses, which became popular in American suburbs, when the movies had arrived a certain respectability. The marquee has retained the art deco detailing of the stainless steel and enameled metal marquee, which announces the films featured, underneath the green neon letters with its name. The fa├žade still contains the porcelain tiles and terracotta in its brick walls. Built in 1925 in the Mount Pleasant area of Providence, then a middle class neighborhood of mostly one or two bedroom houses, the area has changed from rural to slightly more suburban, yet has retained much of its rich history.


The Castle has gone through multiple owners in the over seventy-five years since it opened its doors, and has been more than a movie house for many of those years. With the arrival of larger multiplexes in the Providence area and with other theaters competing for business by offering bargain tickets, it was often difficult to survive on movies alone. In 1999 it hosted a food and entertainment program designed to highlight the exceptional cuisine and art coming out of Rhode Island, where bands played, art was shown, and top restaurants served their food; in 2000 Tipper Gore and members of the Democratic Party gave speeches on behalf of Al Gore for the presidential primaries. In November 2000 local businessman Anthony Gemma bought and revived the Castle together with his three brothers and a brother-in-law spending approximately $500,000 on the endeavor, over half of which was a loan from Providence's economic development committee, a testament to the building's historic importance.

The three theatres feature Lincoln Town car seats and table service offering food and drinks from the restaurant in the same building - far surpassing the soda and popcorn movie theatre staples. The box office and concession stand was moved back to its original 1925 location, and Roger Whiting, a RISD student, painted a brightly colored mural of the four seasons on the lunettes of the domed ceiling.


Janusonis, Michael. "Castle Theatre Gets Royal Treatment." Providence Journal. 28 September: 2001. E6.

MacKay, Scott. "Tipper Gore swings through R.I." Providence Journal. 1 March: 2000. A1.

Mingus, Ken. "Coming Soon to the Castle Theatre: Last Picture Show." Providence Journal. 20 March: 1998. C1.

Seavor, Jim. "Castle Theatre for Sale." Providence Journal. 30 September: 1998. E2.

Woodward, William McKenzie. Downtown Providence , A Citywide Survey of Historic Resources . Historical Preservation Report. 1981. 25.