The Rivoli Theatre opened on April 22, 1922 in Rutherford, New Jersey. It was designed by architect Abram Presikel and featured a marble facade, ornate interior and a centerpiece chandelier made out of crystals from Czechoslovakia. The 2,200 seat theater opened as a combination vaudeville and silent film house. During this time, acts such as Abbott and Costello and the Glen Miller Orchestra performed at the Rivoli.
In 1936, architect John Eberson, known for designing many atmospheric theaters across the world, remodelled the interior. On January 9, 1977, a fire destroyed the lobby and front of the building. Luckily, most of the auditorium was undamaged. Repairs began right away, and in 1982 the theater reopened as a performing arts center called the George W. Newman Theatre. However, movies were still shown in the building. As part of the reconstruction, a two screen cinema was constructed on the site of the Rivoli’s lobby. The entire building, including the former Rivoli and the two screen cinema, was named the William Carlos Williams Center for the Performing Arts, after the poet, doctor and Rutherford native.
The theater was gifted to Bergen County in 1987, and they made an agreement with the nonprofit group that ran the theater to continue on. Over the years, the theater hosted music shows, films, art shows, and High School Graduations. In October 2012, the Newman theater closed due to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. A study determined that the ceiling plasterwork might not be stable if exposed to the sound of a live music performance. In August 2021, Bergen County transferred the ownership of the building to the borough of Rutherford, who then sold it to local developer Chuck Olivo for $1. Olivo intends to save the theater, as well as build a residential building on the site.
Matt Lambros NJ Rutherford Dec 31, 2021 Architecture