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Lederer Theatre (Emery's Majestic Theatre)
Of several examples of terra-cotta in these blocks of Washington Street, first is the Hotel Dreyfuss, which has a colorful terra-cotta cornice with cartouches and other minor terracotta touches, part of a remodeling of a plain brick Neo-Renaissance building. The former Packard Motor Company showroom hardly suggests the aura of technological sheen and classy luxuriousness that it once conveyed, the latter still seen in the terra-cotta sheathing of the structure in a bone-white imitation of limestone bejeweled with bits of color. The nearby Johnson and Wales classroom building ( PR15) employs the terra-cotta-clad frame to more daring effect; still, this claims attention as a remnant of a standard deluxe auto salon of its period. Its renovation as a restaurant was successfully completed in 1999 (Durkee and Brown, architects).
Best of all is the front of the Lederer Theatre, a fantasy version of the Roman triumphal arch motif. Pastel colors in bone white again, lemon yellow, and lime green make this an exceptionally subtle example of commercial terra-cotta. A delicately detailed two-story lobby topped with a stained glass oval dome has been partially restored. Providence's own George M. Cohan appeared in two productions here before it was converted from stage shows to movies in 1923, reverting to dramatic theater in 1971 as the home of the important regional Trinity Repertory Theatre. It was then that the cavernous, ornamented interior was gutted to provide for two replacement theaters, one above the other, in the stripped bare brick manner prevalent for theater reuse in the early 1970s.
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