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The Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) (formerly Loew's State Theatre and Palace Concert Theater) is a multi-use theater located at 220 Weybosset Street in Providence, Rhode Island. The building was built as a movie palace by the Loews Theatres chain and opened in 1928. PPAC contains over 3,000 seats and hosts touring Broadway shows, concerts, plays and films.[2][3][4][5]

Loew's State Theatre
Providence Performing Arts Center is located in Rhode Island
Providence Performing Arts Center
LocationProvidence, Rhode Island
ArchitectRapp & Rapp
NRHP reference #77000027[1]
Added to NRHPAugust 19, 1977


The theater was built in 1928 as The Loew's State by Rapp and Rapp. George and C.W. Rapp were architects who made their name by designing movie houses across the United States.[6] The first film to show there was Excess Baggage, starring William Haines.[6] Over 14,000 people jammed the building during its opening; they did not come to watch the film, but to see the theatre's opulent chandeliers, marble columns, and detailed moldings on the walls.[6]

It was the site of a number of notable movie premieres, including the first 3-D feature film, Bwana Devil.[citation needed]

Between 1950 and 1972 the theatre operated under the name Loew's Theatre and showed live concerts, rather than movies.[6]

Between 1972 and 1975 the building was known as the Palace Concert Theater, and was used primarily for rock concerts.[6] In 1973-1974 alone, the Palace Concert Theatre hosted Bee Gees, The Kinks, The Doors, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, and Aerosmith.[6] The band King Crimson recorded the song "Providence" during a 1974 concert at the venue, and the recording was featured on their seventh album Red, released later that year.[7]

The theater was almost torn down in the late 1970s. According to mayor Buddy Cianci's account, the theatre's owner asked for a permit to demolish the building. Cianci pledged over $1 million of city funds to keep the theatre open.[8]

The theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 as Loew's State Theatre.[1] From 1978 to 1982, the theatre operated under the name Ocean State Theatre.[6]

Beginning in 1999, the theater was extensively remodeled and largely restored to its original 1928 opulence. It was also expanded to be able to accommodate traveling Broadway productions and orchestra performances.[6] In 1996, PPAC became the anchor of Cianci's Arts and Entertainment District, which offered tax breaks to attract artists to downtown.[9][10]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ the Providence Journal: A&E, Things to do: Mary Poppins, Burn the Floor, Bring it on
  3. ^ the Providence Journal: A&E, Things to do: The Adams Family
  4. ^ the Providence Journal: A&E, Things to do: Chris Botti performs at Providence Performing Arts Center
  5. ^ University of Massachusetts Come Fly Away with UMass Dartmouth at the Providence Performing Arts Center[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Providence Performing Arts Center". Archived from the original on 6 January 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  7. ^ Snider, Charles (2008). The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock. Lulu. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-615-17566-9.
  8. ^ Kaiser, David (14 May 2011). "An American Original". History Unfolding. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  9. ^ Dresser, Michael (19 May 2001). "Success of R.I. arts district encourages plans in Md". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 3 November 2016. the creation of an arts and entertainment district in 1996, with tax breaks for artists
  10. ^ Cianci, Vincent A. "Arts and Entertainment District". United States Conference of Mayors. The United States Conference of Mayors. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2016.

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