Medford Square 1-2-3

34 Salem Street,
Medford, MA 02155

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Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 1, 2004 at 3:52 am

Many thanks for your appraisal of the recent history of the former Medford Theater. I have an exterior photo and an auditorium shot taken in about 1924. There was very little decoration inside the auditorium and what stood out were two boxes on each splay wall beside the proscenium opening, which must have given a dreadful view of the screen (if they were ever used). The balcony had a seating capacity of 450. There was a ballroom located over the lobby and shop units which extended across the entire front of the building.

br91975 on October 31, 2004 at 8:32 pm

The Cinema 1 & 2 closed sometime around 1982 or 1983. I used to go there all the time with my parents between the ages of 5 and 7, seeing mostly Disney flicks there (‘The Fox and the Hound’, ‘Peter Pan’, and ‘Tron’, just to name a few) and remember the interior being fairly modern, which I later learned was the result of a major renovation in the late 1960s, in which most of, if not all, the interior’s original architectural elements were either stripped away or covered up and the theatre was twinned.

What ultimately killed it, I suspect, were a few factors: the then-new multiplex which opened its doors a few miles away at Assembly Square Mall in Somerville in 1981 (operated at the time by Sack Theatres and in the present day by Loews) and immediately began siphoning away first-run bookings, and both the Assembly Square Mall and the Meadow Glen Mall in Medford, which gradually killed most of Medford Square’s foot traffic and most of the retail businesses which resided within it (including the Cinema 1 & 2). Stormship, a communications design firm, occupies at least the former balcony/upstairs auditorium space of the Cinema 1 & 2 space, while the former lobby (which, during the time I went there, housed the box office, to the right a couple of arcade games and a small concession stand, and, to the left, the downstairs auditorium, and, to the far right, the staircase leading to the upstairs theatre) was, when I took a look during a weekend back home visiting family in January of 2003, serving as a storage area for a furniture store located next door to the right; the former orchestra or downstairs auditorium, I suspect, houses part of the Elizabeth Grady day spa located most prominently in the retail space to the left of the old lobby area.