23 Amherst Street
Manchester, NH 03101
- The was the first Theatre built and managed by Descoteaux. The Empire and Globe were managed by him, but (as far as I know) originally built by other parties.
- A promotional ad for the Rex’s opening told readers to “Watch for the opening date of the Rex Theatre. Manchester newest, most up to date motion picture house.” interestingly, at the end of this ad in small text was printed “Under the Personal Management of Mr. Lucien Descoteaux”. It is interesting that this was advertised. Perhaps it was because Mr. Descoteaux was a well known figure in the world of Manchester film exhibition? I am most curious about the inclusion of the word ‘personal’. Could this perhaps signal that he was going to run this theatre the way he wanted to run it, unencumbered by other owners (like the other theatres he managed). This is purely speculation on my part, but it has cast the Rex’s opening in an interesting light. The Globe was closed only three years later, and it makes me wonder, did Descoteaux open the Rex to purposefully steal business from the other 2nd/3rd run theatres (even the ones he himself managed but did not own)? By the time of the Rex’s opening in 1940, Manchester already had 10 theatres, and had an estimated population of 80,000. The Globe and Empire occasionally were advertised under the banner of being “Neighborhood Theatres”. This could have some bearing as to why the Globe was closed and why the Rex was opened. One could hypothesize that because of the relatively close location of the Rex and the Globe that the Rex was built as a replacement. The Globe dated back to atleast 1915, so it was certainly getting on in its years. That area didn’t necessarily need another second run theatre at the time, yet Descoteaux built the Rex AND managed the Globe simultaneously. The notion that Descoteaux would build a theatre to essentially compete with himself certainly seems odd, but it might have made sense from a business perspective. He was allegedly only a manager at the Globe, whereas he owned the Rex. A much higher percentage of profit would go directly into his pocket if the Rex was successful. Until I can confirm that a third party owned the Globe, or that Descoteaux was at odds with the owners of the Globe this is all conjecture, but it certainly paints the opening of the Rex in a different light.
- Opened May 30, 1940 at noon. The first pictures shown were “His Girl Friday”, and “The Amazing Mr. Williams”.
- Billed as “Manchester’s Newest, Most Up To Date Picture House”
Seated 550 People
Allegedly Manchester’s first Air Conditioned Theatre
“Rust colored seats are of leather with rubber cushions while the back is of mohair and fitted with springs.”
- Had “two of the latest projection machines devised by the industry”. The special features of this machine include a “type of lighting on the screen that provides maximum illumination with a minimum of eye strain.”
“The specially designed screen is designed to absorb infra-red rays which are harmful to the eyes.”
- 12 seats were set aside for the hard of hearing, with attachments (headphones?) to amplify the sound.
- Was built in what used to be called the Sun building.
- Closed initially on November 15, 1958. Its last shows during this time were “Imitation General” and “Tarzan’s Fight For Life”. It is unknown why Descoteaux closed the theatre in 1958, but a Union Leader article from April 19, 1961 said that the theatre was going to reopen soon. Descoteaux’s reasoning for reopening the theatre was that it was “a good time to reopen” since studios were “making more pictures than before”. During this interim period the Rex also allegedly received some sprucing up, with some repairs and repainting done
- The Rex was reopened again as of May 24, 1961. It is unknown how long it stayed open after this point. The latest date that I found that had advertisements for the theatre was February 10, 1962.
- Allegedly closed by Descoteaux in 1962. Lucien was supposed to have retired some time before his death in 1968.