A show at the Stadium Theater
The Stadium Theater, built in 1925, was once one of the finest theaters in Rhode Island. As a child in the 1970's, I remember going to the Stadium on Saturdays to see feature films for a buck. As a teenager, I remember the sad marquee that never changed, displaying 'XXX Movies' with a weight that gave the heavy iron letters a barely perceptible droop. As a college student, I returned home to see the theater boarded up and unoccupied. In the last few years, a non-profit group has purchased the old theater and is restoring it to its earlier glory. Shows, ranging from classic movies to off-broadway productions and a variety of concerts are now produced on a regular basis, raising additional needed money for the restoration. When you visit, notice the intricate artwork that was just recently rescued from beneath a layer of whitewash (the picture above doesn't show some of the beautiful artwork just restored to the sides of the stage). Look at the grand staircase and marvel at the newly discovered paintings along both sides of the large mirror. Inside the theater, study the walls and ceiling, still being renovated. Examine the tiled water fountain and fireplace. They too will soon be restored to their orignal glory. If you're lucky, you may hear the original Wurlitzer Organ with its massive pipes and booming voice. An experience not to be missed and a symbol of the rebirth of my hometown.
Churches built by Woonsocket's...
Churches built by Woonsocket's Immigrants
St. Ann's Church is a city landmark with its two cupola-topped steeples. The church, once a center of the Sentintellist movement, is decorated with frescoes modeled on those in Rome's Sistine Chapel. Sadly, St. Ann's recently closed it's doors to regular services. *** Precious Blood church (pictured) was also central to the Sentinelle affair as the parish church of Mgr. Charles Dauray, a fierce opponent of the Sentinellistes.
A hockey game at Adelard...
A hockey game at Adelard Arena, Mt St Charles Academy.
Hockey is king at Mount Saint Charles Academy. State champions with alarming regularity and the number one schoolboy hockey team in the country on more than a few occasions makes the word 'dynasty' seem almost inadequate to describe the Mounties. More than a few NHL talents have come from the Mount, including Brian Lawton and Brian Berard. If you're in Woonsocket in the fall or winter, check the Woonsocket Call and take in a game if at all possible. You won't be disappointed.
The Museum of Work and Culture
The Blackstone Valley, running from Worcester, Mass., to Pawtucket, once housed hundreds of textile mills, some dating to the early 19th century. Woonsocket came into its own toward the end of the 19th century, with the influx of Canadian immigrants when it was referred to as 'Little Boston'.
The museum — which is housed in a brick building that was once the Barnai Worsted Company, makers of woolen goods — offers lessons in both economics and cultural history. Its exhibits go beyond reconstructions of textile looms and vignettes of family life to politically charged issues dealing with labor organizing, strikes and the Sentinelle Affair, which rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the mid-1920s.
Named for the French-language newspaper that led opposition to a 1922 state law requiring the use of English instead of French in parochial school classrooms, the episode embroiled the church and ended with the excommunication of militant Sentinellistes.
One room is set up as a school classroom in which a Catholic priest (a mannequin in the front of the room) has come to answer questions about the labor protests. Sitting in any one of a dozen seats allows guests to ask 'father' a question and get a response.
Another room is a meeting hall where a labor union rally is taking place. The combination of a realistic audio track and the hard fold-up chairs which are plentiful in the basement of every Catholic church in the city lends authenticity to the experience.
Autumnfest is held Columbus Day Weekend, (This year, on October 6th, 7th and 8th, 2001). There is a 10K road race, talent shows, sports competitions for teams representing local businesses, continuous live entertainment, dozens of food booths, a beer tent with ongoing entertainment and a few carnival rides. One of the premier small town festivals in the country. Not to be missed.
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