Named for the Famous Italian Explorer

At its opening in 1926, the Columbus Theater was touted as “a testimonial to the Italian people.” The late Beaux-Arts theater was built, designed and decorated by Italians: owner Domenic Annotti, architect Oresto DiSaia, and muralist George DeFelice (whose work can also bee seen at Holy Ghost Church and the Rhode Island Statehouse). The theater, of course, is named for the famous Italian explorer and has 1,492 seats inside, where elaborate plasterwork and DeFelice’s murals (“The Music Sensation”, “The Echo of Music”) make this a rare and virtually intact showplace. The theater was equipped for movies and vaudeville at its opening, but followed a twisted path like the neighborhood. Arthouse after World War II became pornography by the 70s. The theater was the focal point of lawsuits, complaints, and multiple revitalization efforts until in 2009 it was closed for fire code violations. In 2012, a group of local musicians worked with owner Jon Berberian to re-open the space as a music co-operative that has become one of the hottest live-music venues in town.


The Columbus Theater in 1926
The Columbus Theater in 1926
Columbus Theater Program
Columbus Theater Program This is a program from 1927 when the name had been changed to the Uptown Theater, “One of New England's Most Beautiful.”
Interior of Columbus Theater
Interior of Columbus Theater This photo shows the interior today, featuring George DiFelice's mural “The Music Sensation” over the proscenium arch. His work can also be seen at the State House and Holy Ghost Church.


270 Broadway Street, Providence, RI 02903


Taylor M. Polites, “Columbus Theater,” Rhode Tour, accessed June 13, 2024,