Hub Theatre

1140 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02118

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Showing 26 - 35 of 35 comments

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Did Grand Opera House ever show movies? If so, it should get its own page here.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

The big Grand Opera House, mentioned above, was at 1176 Washington St., while the Hub Theatre was at 1134-40. In the 1918 Boston street directory, the Grand Opera House was still there, but the Hub Theatre’s address was occupied by the “Hub Cigar Company”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 23, 2011 at 11:49 am

The earlier of the 2 maps which Ed Findlay has linked to shows the outline of the Hub Theatre, with a horseshoe balcony. In his autobiography, the comedian Fred Allen writes that he linked up with one Sam Cohen who organized Amateur Night performances at Greater Boston theaters. The first of these shows was at the Hub Theatre. He and his fellow performers met Sam Cohen at a pre-arranged point, then Cohen escorted them to the Hub Theatre. He led them down the Dover Street side of the building to the alley which ran in back. Then they went through the stage door in the rear wall. A movie was underway, with the piano playing. They walked across the stage behind the movie screen to a group dressing room at the far side of the stage. He never mentions that they had to climb stairs after entering the stage door, which bolsters the claim that the Hub had been rebuilt to occupy the entire building.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

Ed, the Grand Opera House was a seperate theater. It was about 5 or 6 doors to the south of the Hub Theatre, on the same side (east) of Washington St. It shows on the earlier of the 2 maps you have linked to above. It was a large theater with a big stage. Also, in that very interesting article about the Grand Opera House from the Back Bay Historical Soc. website, if you scroll about half-way down, it talks about the Grand Opera House’s neighbor, the Dime Museum or Hub Theatre. (Before it was the Hub, it was the Grand, and before that the Grand Museum also called the Grand Dime Museum). They mention that there were girl swimmers in a tank on stage at the Hub.

EdwardFindlay
EdwardFindlay on April 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Two maps, one from 1938 and one from 1950 showing the before and after of what looks like could be a renovation of the building…

View link
View link

EdwardFindlay
EdwardFindlay on April 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm

The theatre is talked about at length here, in which it is referred to as the Grand Opera House: View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

In the 1950s there was a Boston-area theater historian named Joe Cifre. He ran a theatrical supply business and had been working in Boston theaters since 1905. He said that the Hub started showing early movies back when it was still the Grand. He believed that it was the first regular theater in Boston to offer programs which were 100% film.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Yes, the building on the left, containing Harry the Greek’s clothing store, is almost certainly the same one which shows up in the Google Street View. But I’m not so sure it’s the old Hub Theatre/Williams Market building from 1850.
Here’s some more history: When it was renamed Windsor Theatre, it was under first-class management and they presented plays there which would normally have performed in theaters downtown. It was a smaller house with probably less than 1,000 seats. After 1882, it was managed by that great character of New England theater, George “Doc” Lothrop.
In 1888, the Williams Market closed, so the ground floor became available. A curio hall was installed there and the place renamed New Grand Museum (sometimes called Grand Dime Museum). The theater continued operating on the second floor. In 1896, it became the Grand Theatre. With the ground floor vacant again, at some point the building was apparently reconstructed so that the theater was now on the ground floor. In August 1903, it reopened as the Hub Theatre, managed by Stair & Wilbur.

EdwardFindlay
EdwardFindlay on April 21, 2011 at 6:13 am

The building still stands and has the Hub name still on it, apparently renovated into apartments at some point…actual address looks to be 1140 Washington Street as per city directory from 1915.

Here’s a shot of the side of the building from around the 80s, compare that with the Google Street View from today and you can see it’s the same building: View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 20, 2011 at 11:45 am

The Hub Theatre was in a rectangular building with the facade on Washington Street and the long left side on Dover Street (today’s East Berkeley St.) After 1901, there was an elevated railway (“el”) station right in front of the theater. The railway, which went out to Forest Hills, later bacame the MBTA’s first Orange Line. The building dated to the mid-19th Century and contained a produce market called Williams Market. On the second floor was a function hall called Williams Hall. It was later rebuilt into the Williams Theatre. In Dec. 1879 it became the Novelty Theatre, then it operated as Hooley’s Theatre for the 1880-81 season before becoming the Novelty briefly before being renovated into the Windsor Theatre.