Boston/Brockton (MA) movie house memories
As a former Bay Stater who grew up in Brockton and Boston (now a writer of books on films and a senior citizen), I have found some of your historical views of Boston and Brockton movie houses a bit askew. From about 1944 through the early 1970s, I collected newspaper movie ads from every major house in both cities — and I still have them (wonderful reference tools as well as nostalgia). In Brockton, there were four major movie houses (after the famous Strand Theatre fire of the early 1940) — not just the one described incorrectly — the Rialto-cum-E.M. Loew’s Center Theatre — in the downtown area on Main Street.
Earlier, before my time, there had been the majestic Brockton Opera House, said to be the first theatre in America to have electric lights (Thomas Edison, in fact, according to the Brockton Enterprise, made his way from Menlo Park to throw the switch himself). In Boston, during the forties through the sixties, at least, there the following houses, looking uptown on Washington Street from Stuart Street (I was a patron at one time or another of virtually every one of them): on the right, the Stuart Theatre (a third-run house), E.M. Loew’s Center Theatre, the Washington St. Olympia (that was the official marquee name, and it later became the Pilgrim), and the RKO Boston, a stage presentation-and-movie house that featured the big bands live. It later was the home of Cinerama movies and renamed Cinerama.
On the left were the Gaiety (later Publix), the second-run Modern Theatre (later Mayflower, renamed the same day as the Pilgrim since they were sister houses, the latter taking over the same movie bill the week after it played at the former), the Trans-Lux,the LaffMovie, the Paramount,the glittering and gilded and mirrored RKO Keith Memorial (a true palace), and further up the street on the left, Loew’s Orpheum. which played generally MGM films day-and-date with its sister movie house, Loew’s State — in another part of town. The Paramount and its sister house, the Fenway, in the Back Bay section, played first run Paramount and Fox movies day-and-date). On Tremont Street, one block up and paralleling Washington Street (opposite Boston Commons) were the Old South Theatre, the Beacon Hill Theatre, the Tremont (later Astor) Theatre, the Majestic, and the huge and spectacular Metropolitan, later the Music Hall when Ben Sack — my boss, at one point — took it over, and now the Wang. And I have the original newspaper ads for every one of them over a 30 year period, along with the outlying Boston houses (Exeter, Telepix, Kenmore, State, Fenway, Esquire — later a Sack house) plus the legitimate stage houses (Colonial, Shubert, Plymouth, Majestic, Opera House).
Wonderful memories and cinema treasures.