The following is a brief history of Mr. Leon Bolduc’s early years as an entrepreneur in the theatre business and the events that led to Mr. Bolduc building the Bolduc Block in the center of Conway Village.
Courtesy of Adrian E. Hurd, a local historian.
In October of 1919, Mr. Leon Bolduc purchased the Bijou Theater from Mr. Howard Straw. The Bijou Theatre was located at 56 Pleasant Street in Conway Village. After purchasing the Bijou, Mr. Bolduc lived in Florida for several winters where he was hired to run movies at the John D. Rockefeller estate. Mrs. Bolduc remained in Conway to manage the Bijou in her husband’s absence. In the early years, Mr. Bolduc managed to show his picture shows in several other locations including Silver Lake, Tamworth, Chocorua, and Jackson.
In 1927, the Bijou Theatre got a new marquee which was brilliantly lit. That same year, Mr. Bolduc purchased Wiley’s Theatre in Lovell, ME.
In 1929, The Bijou Theatre played the first talking picture to come to Conway, a musical entitled “The Broadway Melody.”
On the evening of July 24th, 1930, in the newly built Masonic Building on Main Street in North Conway, Mr. Bolduc opened his new North Conway Theater to the public with a 9pm showing of MGM’s “The Sea Bat.”
On July 6th, 1923, on an early Friday morning, between 2 and 3am, a fire started in the Shaw Block which was owned by Mr. Charles Wheeler. The fire quickly spread destroying four buildings on the West Side of Main Street just north of the bridge in the center of Conway Village. One of those buildings was the Merrill Block which, at the time of the fire, housed the Conway Café, then owned and operated by Mrs. Anna Levoy.
After the fire, this lot remained vacant for several years until it was purchased by Mr. Bolduc. On that vacant lot, Mr. Bolduc built what would become known as the Bolduc Block. Construction on Mr. Bolduc’s new building began in the Fall of 1930. By that November, the cellar had been excavated and the frame work was being raised. Progress on the new building continued in spite of the winter weather.