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Palace Theatre

80 Hanover Street
Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, 03101

Palace Theatre, Manchester New Hampshire
Photo: John Phelan License: CC BY-SA 3.0
The Palace Theatre is a stage production venue in Manchester, New Hampshire. Built in 1914, the theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Athens Building.
It was fashioned after its namesake in New York City, to which it is remarkably similar. At the time, the theatre was dubbed as "the only first-class theatre in New Hampshire that was fireproof and air-conditioned." (The air-conditioning was provided by fans which blew air over large blocks of ice under the stage.)

The Palace Theatre opened on April 9, 1915.

Up to 1930 the Palace had touring vaudeville companies regularly on its stage, with famous performers of the day, including Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope, Harry Houdini, The Marx Brothers, and Red Skelton. Stock companies, such as The Palace players had up to a dozen performances a week.

Vaudeville began to lose public favor toward the end of the 1920s, as silent pictures and talkies drew crowds to the silver screen. The Palace struggled to stay in business, so it adapted and became primarily a movie house from 1930 until the early-1960s.

By the late 1960s, the Palace Theatre was no longer in use for staging productions. Instead it was used as classroom space for New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University). When the school moved to its new campus, the Palace became vacant, and fell into disrepair. Eventually, the seats were removed, the stage equipment was abandoned, and the building was used as a warehouse.

On November 2, 1974, the Palace Theatre reopened with its new facade, lighting system, backstage furnishings and new orchestra seating.

The theatre building has two main sections. Facing Hanover Street is a two-story brick-and-stone structure with a pressed-metal facade containing five store fronts, of which the westernmost houses the lobby of the theatre. The auditorium is in a multi-story structure rising behind the first one. The auditorium measures about 72'6" by 59'8". It originally had a seating capacity of 1,100; after its restoration, it has a capacity of 880.

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