Main Street
Falmouth, Massachusetts 02540

The Marr & Colton Organ Company, Warsaw, New York, 1928

Two manuals and pedal
Electro-Pneumatic Key and Stop Action

The Elizabeth theatre in Falmouth opened its doors in 1920 in the center of Falmouth. It cost $50,000 and seated 750 persons. The Elizabeth Theatre in Falmouth is listed in the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac as part of the M & P Theatres circuit (Mullin & Pinanski, a Paramount affiliate, at 60 Scollay Square in Boston). The theatre closed in 1983 and the theatre organ had long since been removed.

The company flourished so well in the 20's, producing what its slogan proudly heralded "America's Finest Organ," that new additions were made to the plant in 1926. This period coincided with the Golden Age of the movie palaces. Nearly all of them contained a theatre organ as a status symbol of the time.

Mention of the Elizabeth Theatre from the article: Woods Hole Museum...Curtain Rising: Theater in Falmouth Over the Past Seventy Years by Dewitt C. Jones III

The Elizabeth Theater on Main Street in Falmouth showed movies six nights a week, but did little business on Monday or Tuesday. Ike Robbins, the owner, agreed to let the University Players present plays there on those two nights if he could receive fifty-five percent of the gross in take. The organizers thought that if they had a theater of their own they would not have to pay such a sum to the Elizabeth Theater and could give six performances a week in stead of just two. Ike Robbins thought that he could do better by showing movies throughout the week and did not renew the lease, forcing the boys to find another location for their performances.

The Elizabeth Theatre was publicized in The Falmouth Patch...A Night at the Movies: The story of two of Falmouth's oldest movie theaters, the Empire and the Elizabeth. on April 8, 2011

Excerpts from the article:

Movie theaters aren't the gathering places they used to be, what with the revolution in media over the last few years—not to mention the price of movie tickets.

For many decades, movie theaters weren't just where people went to be entertained; they also went to cinemas to watch news reels of local events. Cinemas used to be big business, especially in Falmouth.

Previously, the upper level of Town Hall would sometimes be set aside for the showing of films, and the Cottage Club at the Heights screened movies before the establishment of the Gables Casino. However, these temporary accommodations would not do indefinitely, and so around the turn of the century, dedicated movie theaters were constructed in town.

The first movie theater ever to open in Falmouth was called the Empire, and it was located in a area of Main Street that was known at the time as the Crocker Block. It opened in 1910, and at the time it was sharing space with Edwin J. Donnelly's barbershop, a grocery store and an establishment owned by Leo H. Miskell.

The Empire's owners until 1924 were H.O Wetherell, who first came to Falmouth to be a music supervisor for the Falmouth school system, and Willis V. Snow, who was a World War I Army veteran who went away to war and later came back to resume management of the theater.

In the year 1924, however, the whole of the Crocker Block was shaken up the actions of one Charles E. Morrison, who purchased the block and immediately set about changing it. He took over the running of the grocery store and transferred the movie rights from the Empire to the Elizabeth Theater. The space left vacant by the Empire was filled in by the the Falmouth Restaurant and D.F. Monroe's department store.

The name of the new theater took its name from one Elizabeth Domina, a Boston native, who traveled to Falmouth in 1912. Domina once sang and played the piano in 1912 at the Empire Theater, and she later married the builder of the Elizabeth Theater, Isaac H. Robbins.

The Elizabeth, which could seat up to 750 people, cost $50,000 to build and was later expanded six years later to accommodate 900 people. The theater's namesake contained to carry out her previous duties by singing and playing the piano.

The last season for the old Elizabeth came in 1983, when the Falmouth Cinema opened up at what was then the Falmouth Mall. While not the first movie theater to be found off Main Street, the Falmouth Cinema proved to be too much for the Elizabeth Theater to keep up with. During the summer of 1983, the Elizabeth closed down for good.

About this column: Nick McCavitt, Falmouth resident and persistent history buff, knows that Falmouth is a treasure trove for history if you know where to look. Each week he'll be hitting the books and the streets of Falmouth to uncover what lies underground, down the street, or even right next door.

American Theatre Organ Society
Cinema Treasures

Source: The Book Of Falmouth, A Tricentenial Celebration: 1686-1986, ed. Mary Lou Smith
           Organs of the United States and Canada Database
           PHOTO: Amy Rader