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The Bomes Theatre is a two-story, Beaux Arts-style, flat-roof, brick structure with stone trim. It is embellished with elaborate terra cotta trim and detailed moldings on the façade. Architectural embellishments include modillion blocks, dentils, a projecting cornice, carved shells, and stylized designs.

It was built in 1921 as the The Liberty Theatre. It opened with two silent films and was truly a neighborhood cinema, much like the Castle Theater (1925) on Chalkstone Avenue and the Avon Cinema (1938) on Thayer Street. It was described in early ads as “the most luxurious community motion picture theatre in Rhode Island.” In 1958, it became an art house cinema with the same owners as the Avon. But that didn’t last long and the cinema began showing adult films. It closed in 1975 and was then used for a variety of small businesses.

In 2004, following its acquisition by the Providence Redevelopment Agency (PRA), Councilmen Miguel Luna and Luis Aponte lead an effort to acquire the building and find an appropriate use for it. For over 15 years, members of the City Council, the Department of Planning and the PRA worked to find a new use and a new user for the building.

When it was included on the Most Endangered Properties lists in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2017, it was because there was little hope that this vacant neighborhood landmark would find a future.

It was included on the city-wide Industrial and Commercial Building District (ICBD), a thematic, scattered-site local historic district, which was incorporated into the Providence Landmarks District in the 2014 zoning rewrite.

SAVED: As of February, 2019, Tavares LLC is restoring the building for use as an event venue. The Providence Preservation Society held its 2019 Winter Bash there to celebrate the building’s new life.

Bomes Theatre in 2019 (credit: Andrew Romero)

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.