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According to their webpage’s history section (link above), the new Grand opened in 1937, and was indeed a replacement for the one destroyed while under construction (the final result was somewhat bigger). Style is a simple, but pleasant and colorful art deco.
Correction to my comment above: seats not all on one level. Stadium seating at back.
Some good photos both interior and exterior at their official web page. Very rustic – outside is like a large fancy barn, with exposed timbers and stucco walls – large single level of seats. But what we can see of the proscenium looks almost art-moderne – very interesting combination. Looks like a great place to see a show!
Status should be changed to Open. Reopened in October 2006!
Their webpage (link above) has a great photo gallery with historic and current photos throughout the interior.
Events calendar shows an interesting and wide-range of events. Comedy nights, broadway touring productions, fund raisers, high school reunions, quitye a few private events. It’s turned into quite a community resource!
According to the 1936 Americal Film review annual, the Plaza had 1,950 seats.
In the 1936 American Film Review annual, the New Center is listed as having 1,400 seats and it was closed at that time.
The American Film review annual for 1936 lists an Ashland theatre at 24th Street & Elmwood, seating 2,000. Wonder how that fits in with the two buildings listed above?
According to the American Film Review for 1936, the Regent had 1,600 seats
According to the Annual Film Review of 1936, the Strand had 1,000 seats.
According to the Annual Film Review of 1936, the Park Theatre had 1,600 seats.
Was in the “ladder district” today to see “Wicked the Musical” at the Opera House (see my report on the Opera House on its page). The Bijou next door looks like progress is being made – most of the back portion where the Bijou auditorium stood is demolished – the front part of the building has interior demolition well underway and the front facade has already been restored. The site of B. F. Keith’s New theatre is partly taken up by the Opera House stage house, and the rest is construction area – eventually the addition to the Paramount/Bijou will be there.
Next door at the Paramount, they they have definitely started renovations – can see evidence of it behind the plywood covering the front. In the back there was a hole about ten feet square knocked out of the backstage wall. If the sun wasn’t shining toward me, I might have been able to see something inside, but no such luck. Saw a vague shape but couldn’t tell if it was the decorative column of the auditorium. Hope it is – the newspaper articles are contradictory about esactly how much of the auditorium interior will be saved.
Interestingly the Playbill reported that Suffolk University had submitted a bid for the Modern Theatre (just on the north side of the opera House) with an eye to renovation with a possible performing arts or theatre space on the first floor and dormitory space on the others. Bid deadline was August 30, 2007, hopefully the Boston RDA will announce a winner soon.
Playbill also mentioned the Wilbur Theatre down next to the Wang/Metropolitan has been placed on the market by Tremont Entertainment Enterprises. City officials will allow the new owners to use the building for entertainment, restaurant, office or residential use. Since it is landmarked, they cannot demolish it or make significant alterations.
Was in the “ladder district” today to see “Wicked the Musical” at the Opera House (see my report on the Opera House on its page) and they have definitely started renovations on the Paramount – can see evidence of it behind the plywood covering the front. In the back there was a hole about ten feet square knocked out of the backstage wall. If the sun wasn’t shining toward me, I might have been able to see something inside, but no such luck. Saw a vague shape but couldn’t tell if it was the decorative column of the auditorium. Hope it is – the newspaper articles are contradictory about esactly how much of the auditorium interior will be saved.
The Bijou next door looks like progress is being made – most of the back portion where the Bijou auditorium stood is demolished – the front part of the building has interior demolition well underway and the front facade has already been restored. The site of B. F. Keith’s New theatre is partly taken up by the Opera House stage house, and the rest is construction area – eventually the addition to the Paramount/Bijou will be there.
Just got to visit the Opera House for the first time since the restoration, and it is quite stunning. Although the basic layout of the auditorium is virtually identical to many of Thomas Lab’s other “adamesque” theatres, the ornamentation is another matter. Since this was built as a memorial to Benjamin Franklin (B.F.) keith, Lamb was told money was no object and to indulge himself, and he packed the walls and ceilings with the most elaborate and finely detailed ornamentation in any of his theatres. It was interesting to see the original color scheme – not flashy but fairly restrained – shades of ivory and beige, with generous application of gold leaf on the ornamentation, all expertly antiqued – looks quite like I remembered 20 years ago, except much cleaner and in pristine shape. The large blank panels between the ornamentation and columns is covered with luxurious red damask, and the ornamentation is just as elaborate at the very back of the balcony as on the proscenium. Even the balcony stairways have the damask and fine plasterwork. The main lobby and entrance library are both sights to behold – both very elaborate, and an impressive lobby ceiling with even more generous applications of gold leaf. At the top of the grand staircase, other staircases wind around a “podium” outdent forming the front of the oval landing appearing there. The podium area sticks out and would make a great place to address the crowd milling below (I couldn’t take the position of honor since the space was taken with a temporray concession table for the musical). At the back wall of the oval was the giant bust of B. F. Keith back in its place of honor. The foyer at mezzanine level (serving the “dress circle seats” has an elaborately carved multi-bay ceiling with several impressive seiling domes. The theater is carpeted throughout with the original carpet of black with gold designs. The seats were nicely covered with black and red patterned velvet, and the original chair ends at the aisles were restored. Lots of crystal chandeliers throughout the lobbies and auditorium. Accoustics were excellent and so was the amplification system – heard the entire musical clearly without having my ears hurt.
Took a peek outside afterwards – the new stage house is huge, even has a nice pattern to the concrete back wall. The NIMBY apartment dwellers got to keep their segment of Mason Street open, although it is more of a walkway than a street. (See my comments at the Bijou, and Paramount pages for what I saw of those venues) The old Tremont Street entrance and corridor of course is all gone, demolished when the new tower was built on Tremont Street. But the new arcade walkway built into that building has a replica of the old facade on the back of the building as well as the front. Inside the arcade looks all modern (but nice modern, much more attractive than the old entrance in its final form). The arcade that ran the length of the Opera House on the southside is all closed up beyond the back of the large Washington Street lobby. Just see the closed doors back there as I turn right to enter the inner lobby. No idea what is there now.
Interestingly, the report on file that the Library of Congress indicates that there was an internal entrance to the Bijou Theatre off of the men’s 2nd floor lounge (whose window looks out down onto the main entrance lobby) and in fact that the restoration of that space left a restored staircase leading to a blank wall (beyind which was the bijou theatre). I forgot to look for that staircase when I was up there but it would certainly be an interesting curio!
Overall, it was great to see the place again and to see it so well restored.
According to the Sept. ‘07 Boston Playbill (I got it at “Wicked – the musical” today) Suffolk has indicated they envisioned a mixed-use facility with possibilities including theatre/art gallery/performance space on the first floor, as well as additional student housing. They recently bought the building next door to renovate into a dormitory (building next to that is already under renovation).
Their bid has been submitted (and the deadline passed 8/30). Hopefully soon the Boston RDA will announce the winning bidder.
Currently the Center is undergoing a major renovation and expansion of its stage house. It will reopen once renovations are completed in 2008. Check their website (link above) for more details.– new addition on the back
According to Craig Morrison’s book “Theatres” for the Library of Congress, this theatre was built in 1910 and had a capacity of 1,636.
Aztec On The River’s webpage is at http://www.aztecontheriver.com and has some nice photos.
According to the THS’s list of largest movie palaces, the Strand has been converted to offices; presumably gutted.
According to the Theatre Historical Society’s list of largest movie palaces, the RKO Uptown had 2,922 seats. Their list indicates the auditorium was demolpshed, indicating the rest of the building survives.It had a Wurlitzer organ installed.
This theatre was operating as far back as the 1920s
Accpording to the 1936 Motion Picture Yearbook, the Madison seated 1,746.
This is the same as the Five Flags Civic Center (nee majestic) (/theaters/1176/) – both at 405 main street, built 1910, etc.
According to the Motion Picture Yearbook for 1936, this seated 2,400.
According to the 1936 Film Annual Review, the Richmond at that time seated 750.
According to the Film Annual Review of 1936, the Strand seated 1,300.