The Theater

A look at the historic theater as the major renovation and restoration ushers the 100-year-old building into the next century.

Stories of the Zeitierion

Interested in specific stories about the theater's history? Visit our Stories of the Zeiterion page to learn about some specific features that make this theater so iconic, as well as some of the people who helped us get here.

We're on the road! While the Zeiterion is undergoing renovations, come see us at these great venues in and around New Bedford!


When Barney Zeitz set out to build “a palace for the people” in 1923, he utilized the finest materials of the time. Thankfully, much of this original glory remains today, thanks to preservation and restoration.

The interior of the Zeiterion, as we know it today, was revealed in September 1982. The building had just been saved from a wrecking ball by the Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE), and ownership was transferred to The City of New Bedford. In 1983, the non-profit Zeiterion Theatre, Inc. was created to bring its stage to life and to maintain and care for the property, which is still the arrangement today.

Beyond the lobby’s Italian marble walls awaits an impressive auditorium that regularly receives “oohs” and “aahs” from audiences. The interior is Infused with historical charm, as the details have been either maintained or honored. For example, once ivory and old rose, the color scheme is now gold and rose, with replicated silk tapestry panels.

Overhead is the unique art that adds true character to this historic theater. First, the ceiling’s sunset scene set in a large oval just in front of the proscenium arch. It centers on a water fountain with striking blue sky in the background, nestled in greenery. Next is the frieze ornamented with Grecian dancing figures, known as muses, in gold leaf upon a hard plaster surface. These muses perform a dance sequence, one step at a time, all the way around the theater. Though restored, the pieces maintain their original integrity.

Restoration of the auditorium also included discovery of the original color palette, which was determined by analyzing the existing paint. The stencil on the gold leaf of the proscenium arch was also restored along with the gold leaf plaster ornamentation. The original orchestra rail of solid gumwood remains, as does the star of the theater’s interior décor - the stunning Czechoslovakian chandelier suspended from the center. Imported in the early 1920s for what was then $7,000, it is approximately 16 ft high and 10 ft wide.

Interested in learning more about how the Zeiterion withstood many changes in the building’s nearly 100 years? Discover more about the theater’s fascinating history here.