The Definitive Resource Of Oscar Wilde's Visits To America

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New England



September 25—October 3, 1882

The Decorative Arts

New England

—A Note About Verifications and Accommodation—

Unlike most tour stops which have their own pages, the Fall tour of New England is listed here as a group. 

This is not merely because they are geographically connected, but also because there is conflicting historical information about his itinerary; plus it is difficult to be definitive about  Wilde’s precise overnight whereabouts as he probably used Boston and Providence a bases for nearby lectures. 

Providence, RI

Low’s Grand Opera House 

Monday, September 25, 1882

Newspaper report

The Providence Morning Star, Sep 26, 1882, 1 (left)

The Providence Morning Star, Sep 25, 1882, 1 (below)

Low’s Grand Opera House

Westminster Street, Providence, RI

Built: March 4, 1878 (William H. Low Jr.)

Seating: increasing to 1800

Rebuilt: 1898

Later: Keith’s Theatre, B.F. Keith’s New Theatre (illustrated), Victory Theatre, RKO Victory Theatre, and the Empire Theatre

Closed: February 29, 1948
Demolished: Spring 1948


Narragansett Hotel

Corner of Dorrance and Weybosset Streets, Providence, RI

Opened: April 1878 

Wilde’s room: No. 5 

Destroyed: 1960 (replaced by a parking lot)

Salem/Lynn, MA

Previous chronologies are typically in error about the dates of Wilde’s lectures around this time, and only one (Beckson) records a lecture in Lynn, MA, while no account of Wilde’s lectures records an appearance in Salem, MA. However, the historical record alludes to both.

Salem, MA

Mechanic Hall
Tuesday, September 26, 1882

Newspaper article entitled: “Salem Matters” (top)

The Boston Globe, Sep 27, 1882, 6

Mechanic Hall
Essex and Crombie Streets, Salem, MA

Seating: 1100
Destroyed (fire): February, 1905

Lynn, MA

Music Hall 

Wednesday, September 27, 1882

Newspaper listing
New York Mirror, Undated, 1882

Newspaper report

St. Paul Daily Globe, October 4, 1882

Music Hall

Central Avenue, Lynn, MA

Opened: December, 1870

Seating: 1219

The presumption is that Wilde lectured at both Salem and Lynn on consecutive days 26/27 September. 

A little doubt remains about the Lynn lecture on September 27 because Wilde is reported as having spent that day in Boston with John Boyle O'Reilly, and in the evening dining with him at the Parker House. However, because Boston is so close to Lynn, and the lecture could have been a matinée, it is probable that Wilde actually did lecture in both Lynn and Salem, particularly as reports are specifically at different venues and noted with differently sized audiences.


While residing in the Boston area during this period, and probably while lecturing nearby, Wilde stayed at the Vendome Hotel, as he had done on a previous visit to Boston to lecture in January. For instance, the Boston Globe noted Wilde staying at the Vendome on October 1 when, coincidentally, the actress Helen Modjeska was also staying there. As it was she who had wondered in 1880 what Wilde was famous for, she was probably by now finding out.

Vendome Hotel

SW corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA

Built: 1871 (William G. Preston, architect)

Sold: 1879

Expanded: 1881-82 (J.F. Ober, architect)

Sold: 1971, renovated

Partially destroyed (fire): June 17, 1972*. Subsequently rebuilt

Extant as an office and condominium complex

* In terms of loss of life, the Vendome fire is the worst fire-fighting disaster in Boston history. Nine fire-fighters died when a 40-by-45 foot section of wall collapsed burying a ladder truck (Ladder 15) and seventeen firefighters beneath a two-story pile of debris.

Pawtucket, RI

Music Hall 

Friday, September 29, 1882

Newspaper report

The Providence Morning Star, Sep 30, 1882, 6 (left)

The Providence Morning Star, Sep 26, 1882, 1 (below)

Music Hall

Main Street, Pawtucket, RI (now 229 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI 02860)

Built: 1880

Seating: 1700
Demolished: 1970

Wamsutta Opera House

Elm and North Washington Streets, North Attleborough, MA

Seating: 800

Later: Emerson House
Destroyed (fire): 1918: 


The Evening Chronicle, October 7, 1882:

“After the lecture Oscar Wilde visited Barden’s clothing store, Draper & Etsy’s paper store and the Wamsutta Pharmacy. He expressed himself as much pleased with them all, but the object he admired most in North Attleboro was Barrows Block. He complimented it very highly. He passed a pleasant hour with Mr. Edward Williams of the Chronicle office recalling familiar people and scenes “Beyond the Sea,” then rode to Attleboro and took the Shore Line train for Providence .”

From this we can assume that Wilde did not stay overnight in North Attleborough. The indication that he traveled to Providence probably implies that he made that larger city his base while visiting the nearby smaller towns of Pawtucket and North Attleborough, from there before returning to Boston.

North Attleborough, MA

Wamsutta Opera House 

Saturday, September 30, 1882

Newspaper article

The Evening Chronicle, September 30, 1882:

"What's coming? Oscar Wilde, to be sure. Coming! He is here in fact, and will deliver his lecture on 'Decorative Arts' in Wamsutta Opera House this evening ... 

Whatever we may think of the character of Mr. Wilde, this fact stands: He has drawn better than any English celebrity ever in this country, excepting, perhaps, Charles Dickens. He has unquestionably succeeded in making himself famous. Go tonight and see how he does it."

Newspaper report

The Evening Chronicle, October 7, 1882:

“Oscar Wilde visited North Attleboro last Saturday evening. That his visit was expected the large and eager crowd which assembled clearly showed…After the lecture Oscar Wilde visited Barden's clothing store, Draper & Etsy's paper store and the Wamsutta Pharmacy. He expressed himself as much pleased with them all, but the object he admired most in North Attleborough was the Barrows Block. He complimented it very highly."

Opera House

Main Street, Bangor, ME

Opened: 1882 (Arthur Vinal, architect)

Seating: 1100
Destroyed (fire): January 15, 1914

Replaced by: Penobscot Theatre (extant)


Bangor House, corner of Main and Union Streets

Incorporated: February 26, 1883
Built: 1834

Subsequently: Various additions and restorations

Extant at: 174 Main Street, Bangor, ME (now an apartment building)

Bangor, ME

Opera House 

Tuesday, October 3, 1882
Sponsored by the local Art Association

Newspaper report

Bangor Daily Whig And Courier, October 4, 1882, 3 (left)

Newspaper advertisement

Bangor Daily Whig And Courier, September 28, 1882, 2 (below)

After staying overnight at the Bangor House (extant) Wilde ventured further north for his second visit to Canada.

The Providence flyer on this page is from the collection of Michael Seeney, used with kind permission.

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2024