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.

Z - Phase II

Today, forty-plus years after the original restoration, the Z has launched a $31 million capital improvement project that will transform theatergoers' experience once again. Improvements include a restored façade, marquee, improved theater seating and acoustics, an elevator, new restrooms, lobby, member’s lounge, “speakeasy”, and offices, among others changes.

WHALE's work is coming full circle as part of the restoration design team to ensure that all the work is in compliance with federal historic standards, WHALE has successfully obtained federal and state historic tax credits that will bring in 35% ($10,850,000) of the total project cost. 

"WHALE has twice now led the charge on behalf of our historic theatre. This time around,,you may not have saved The Z from the wrecking ball, but you have helped to usher in its next evolution..New Bedford is lucky to have an organization like WHALE because without WHALE, the city would truly be ' just anywhere."

From a letter to WHALE from Frank Almeida

Chair, Zeiterion Board of Directors

"WHALE is thrilled to be part of the team to bring the project to fruition as the

Zeiterion is a shining jewel for the city’s art revival and will be a state-of-the-art, world class performing art center when the work is completed."

Teri Bernert

WHALE, Executive Director

Roses wilt

Chocolates melt

But a brick is FOREVER!

Go to our website to buy a brick and tell us what you want engraved on your loved one's gift.