It's hard to describe the conditon of the Zeiterion Theater when WHALE undertook it's restoration in 1981. After years of neglect, it was derelict, decrepit, and in shambles. Demolition was likely.
Built by the Zeitz family, the Zeiterion Theatre opened in 1923 as a vaudeville house and about a year later reopened as the State Theater hosting silent films and eventually “talkies.” It remained a movie house until the late 70s. when it closed down, partly due to competition from new suburban movie theaters. It lay vacant for ten years before WHALE, led by John Bullard and Sarah Delano, stepped-up to save the building.
When the work began, WHALE President Sarah Delano, undaunted by the challenge, rubbed her hands together and declared, "This is going to be so much fun!"
Since that time, the Zeiterion has delivered nothing but fun to New Bedford. Their steady lineup of nationally famed and locally beloved performers and performances have played a major role in igniting New Bedford's arts and culture scene.