Wang Theatre

270 Tremont Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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Showing 101 - 125 of 152 comments

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 3, 2006 at 11:12 am

The Hub Theatre was at the southeast corner of Washington and Dover streets. It was a rectangular building with the short end on Washington and the long left side on Dover Street. It originally was a market, Williams market. Then a hall was installed upstairs, which eventually became a theatre, then later the entire building was adapted as a theatre. Names were Williams, Hooley’s, Novelty, Windsor, Grand Museum, Grand Theatre and Hub Theatre. It reopened as the Hub Theatre on August 17, 1903, under managment of Stair and Wilbur. Early movies were shown there when it was still the Grand, according to Joe Cifre. He claims that the Grand was the first regular theatre in Boston to offer a show consisting 100% of films. I have seen photos where, if you know where to look, at least part of the Hub Th. can be seen – recent books by Arcadia Publ., maybe their South End book and/or their Orange Line book. (The Orange Line and the Dover el station were right in front of the Hub.)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 3, 2006 at 10:51 am

What and where was the Hub? Was it only a live stage or did it also show movies?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 3, 2006 at 10:17 am

Yes, Tom N, if you lived in the South End and didn’t care for what was playing at the Met (Wang), Wilbur, Shubert, or Hollis, you could head for the Castle Square/ Arlington, the National, Columbia, Apollo, Cobb, Grand Opera House, Hub, Puritan, and even our mysterious Lafayette. Have I left any out??

Tom10 on March 2, 2006 at 8:10 pm

The South End must have been an interesting place to live with all these theaters, whether live or motion picture. If your home was in these neighborhoods, you had much within walking distance. I’d give anything to go back to that era in a time machine.

IanJudge on March 2, 2006 at 12:27 pm

We have, at the Somerville Theatre, a newspaper article noting that Busby Berkeley was leaving the Arlington Theatre on Arlington street for the Somerville Players, and mentioning his successful presentation of musical comdies at the Arlington.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 2, 2006 at 12:02 pm

I agree that it seems that the Castle Square/ Arlington Theatre was a live house which never presented movies. It was demolished around 1932. Another theatre to the south of the Wang was the Hollis Street Theatre, also a live house. As for the mysterious Lafayette Theatre, just because it seems like a large structure on the map doesn’t mean it really was a big theatre. Why not see if you can find it in old City Directories, other old maps, and in old newspaper ads. The people who could give us a quick answer about it are, alas, all deceased.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 1, 2006 at 1:15 pm

I doubt it, since the ‘Lafayette Theatre’ shown on this map is quite a large structure, taking up half of a city block.

Also shown on the same 1928 map is the ‘Arlington Theatre’, at the corner of Arlington, Chandler, and Tremont streets. It was previously called the Castle Square Theatre. I have not added it to CinemaTreasures because I don’t know if it ever showed movies. The Boston Athenaeum says it was razed in 1932.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 1, 2006 at 11:26 am

I have no information about the Lafayette Theatre. I never heard of it before. It is not listed in my 1921 and 1895 lists of Boston theatres; nor is it mentioned in J. Paul Chavanne’s essay on the theatres of the South End. It is not mentioned in the text of Donald King’s 2005 book “The Theatres of Boston”; however, in Appendex 1 at the rear of the book he writes “1908 – Idle Hour Theatre. Tremont Street, near Castle Square Theatre. Short-lived motion picture house”. Possibly this was a little cinema which later was renamed the Lafayette.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 27, 2006 at 9:26 pm

And now a question, for Ron Salters or anyone else:

This 1928 map shows a large building labelled ‘Lafayette Theatre’, on the east side of Tremont Street just south of Broadway, two blocks from the Wang (Metropolitan) Theatre. It is near the top left corner of the map.

I’ve never heard of this theatre, and have found no references to it in various histories of movie or stage theatres in Boston. Any information on it would be appreciated.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2006 at 5:03 am

This 1928 map shows the Metropolitan Theatre near the top right corner. West is at the top of this map.

The METROPOLITAN BLDG. is on Tremont Street, at the corner of Hollis Street, just south of the Wilbur Theatre. The METROPOLITAN THEATRE is just behind (east of) this building.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 24, 2006 at 11:12 am

When the Wang began its Monday night movie classics series, I believe that they referred to their screen as “the largest in New England”. A rather ominous note was sounded during the 2005 movie season when they dropped admissions and made the showings free.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 24, 2006 at 6:58 am

Sadly, I must report that the Wang Center has discontinued its Motion Picture Mondays film series. I confirmed this with a phone call to the theatre this morning.

No movie has been shown here since last spring. I think the last one was “Dirty Dancing” in April.

Boston still has some old movie palaces operating … but it no longer has any movies showing in them.

Time to take “Movies” off the Function: listing at the top of this page.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 12, 2005 at 11:55 am

I think that Jess Cain is still among us— in addition to his radio work, he was also an occasional actor in local productions. As for the old Metropolitan, one aspect of it that I liked was that if you went into the theatre when it opened about 9AM on a sunny morning, the huge inner foyer was flooded with sunlight coming from the windows on the south wall. Outside of that wall there is a fine decorated facade which nobody ever sees because it’s now out of the way. The alley there was formerly Hollis Street, which ran down to Washington. Diagonally across from that facade when the Met was new was the Hollis St. Theatre, one of Boston’s legit houses. There were no buildings across from the east wall of the Met, or few buildings, so that you could get a good look at it, unlike today. And there was a narrow street which ran in back of the stage and alonside the north wall of the Wilbur Theatre. In other words, the Met’s rear stage wall was even with the north sidewall of the Wilbur, so you can see that the Met stage was not very deep. I saw the Metropolitan Opera on tour from NY at the Met in April 1958. Their scenary was in tents and trailers outside the theatre. The opera was there because the old Boston Opera House on Huntington Ave had been demolished in Jan-Feb. 1958. I went there during the summer of 1962 after it had been renamed Music Hall by Ben Sack, and the show was an excercise in 1929-era nostalgia, with the organ operating and a mini-revue on stage in addition to the movie. The organ was removed to a private collector sometime in the 1970s, I believe. The house seats about 3600 today. The ring of loges around the orchestra floor is not original and were installed during the 1990-era renovations.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on October 13, 2005 at 12:27 pm

WHDH radio 85 (really 850) no longer exists. The frequency now belongs to WEEI Sports Radio, home of the Red Sox. No idea if Jess Cain is still living.

IanJudge on October 13, 2005 at 12:09 pm

Great Stuff, Bill! I have a couple of old Playbills for Camelot at the Saxon and Sound of Music at the Gary – the old ads are funny as well in these. The Statler is now the Park Plaza Hotel.

BoxOfficeBill on October 13, 2005 at 10:24 am

I just noticed that the ad for the “Hungry Pilgrim” at the Statler Hilton implies that the restaurant served an After Theater supper up until noon the next day. Now, we all know that “Cleopatra” is egregiously over-long and that patrons would have been famished after it; but did restaurants discover that the After Theater crowd would keep arriving until the following day’s lunch hour? All those hungry women no doubt created a niche market, too.

BoxOfficeBill on October 13, 2005 at 9:34 am

Here’s a Playbill for “Lizpatra” at the Wang Center, aka Music Hall, in July ’63.

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Though my NYC origins should have dictated that I’d see the film at Manhattan’s Rivoli Theater, the elevated price scale and the difficulty of getting reserved seats there prompted me and a friend to see it in Boston. As a college student at the time, I had a network of undergrad pals in Bean Town, so we used our contacts there to get tickets and crash-out overnight. It proved surprisingly easy: if I remember correctly, we bought the tickets on the day of performance (the Rivoli required a wait of several weeks). The size of the theater no doubt allowed for the availability of seats even in the cheap sections at peak times.

I remember that the film’s presentation was superbâ€"grander and more impressive than it would have been at the smaller Rivoli. The orchestral overture thundered through the huge house, and as the lights dimmed, the sweeping curtains parted majestically on the Fox logo. Splendid. Though the film was laughable, right down to Hermes Pan’s crowd-scene choreography, we enjoyed it immensely, even as we began to nod off around midnight with almost an hour of the nonsense left to go.

The ads in this program are a thrill in themselves. I thought you’d especially like the one of features at other Sack theaters. But my favorite notice comes on the title page with the “Thirsty Pilgrim” at the Statler Hilton, “serving light lunches for men only.” Boston famously offered such places at the time, from the sublime Locke-Ober to ridiculous street-corner bars. For each one, so many hungry women. When my aunt had lived in the area a decade or so earlier, many (all?) local taverns allowed women to enter only when accompanied by men. On family visits, I remember playing with my cousin outside drinking spots while my grandfather escorted my mom and her sister inside for a highball or two. Fathers debauching daughters! Children left to their own devices! And all in the name of propriety! But who could complain when the Music Hall was showing “Cleopatra.”

bruceanthony on August 24, 2005 at 9:19 pm

What is the current seating capacity of the Wang?. I can’t believe a theatre seating over 4000 seats was reduced to 2900 which is listed on this site. Smaller theatres list more seats than the Wang.brucec

JimRankin on June 24, 2005 at 4:54 am

The THEATRES OF BOSTON mentioned above this post, can be obtained at a discount through the Theatre Historical Society via the link on the front page of their web site: for a limited time, so don’t delay!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 23, 2005 at 7:33 pm

According to Donald C. King’s new book The Theatres of Boston: A Stage and Screen History, the Metropolitan opened on October 17, 1925, with 4407 seats.

“The Metropolitan presented a first-run film, symphony orchestra overture and ballet, followed by vaudeville. It booked famous stars like Amos and Andy, Kate Smith, and Rudy Vallee, whose acts were not completely absorbed by the house’s vastness and grandeur. Such huge auditoriums hastened the demise of vaudeville, whose very intimacy had been its greatest attraction.”

In February 1938, the Metropolitan droped its stage shows. Ben Sack took it over and renamed it the Music Hall on July 13, 1962. During Sack’s operation, the Music Hall presented occasional road stage productions, opera, and ballet, as well as movies.

JimRankin on June 10, 2005 at 12:19 pm

Recent color photos of this theatre can be found on the site: “America’s Stunning Theatres” by photographer and stagehand Noah Kern at: Comments and information may be left there without registration; such can be public view or only to Mr. Kern. Scroll down the page to find the name, and then click on the sample image above it to be taken to the page of photos of it.

Coate on May 20, 2005 at 10:57 am

Something noteworthy about this place when it was known as the Music Hall was that it was the venue selected for the 1977 world premiere of “A Bridge Too Far.” (The Boston area engagements were held elsewhere.) Also, in 1971, a special 70mm print was struck specifically for the Music Hall engagement of the X-rated 3-D film “The Stewardesses.”

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 26, 2005 at 3:37 pm

A picture postcard of the Metropolitan, described here. It was made some time between 1925 and 1930.

A 1930 night photo, described here, showing the Majestic’s marquee and the Metropolitan’s vertical sign.

A 1947 photo, described here. You can’t see the marquee or the entrance, but you can see the vertical sign.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 30, 2005 at 10:06 am

Here’s a 1959 photo of what was then the Metropolitan Theatre. The photo is described here.

The theatre’s marquee says “MET” and advertises “John Paul Jones”. Next door at the Wilbur Theatre, a live stage, is “A New Comedy” called “Golden Fleecing”.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 20, 2005 at 12:35 am

According to an unpublished draft manuscript by Douglas Shand-Tucci entitled The Puritan Muse (available in the Fine Arts room of the Boston Public Library), the last show as the Metropolitan was on May 31, 1962. Ben Sack reopened it as the Music Hall in June, 1962.

The theatre was originally intended to be named Capitol rather than Metropolitan. Over the years it moved from the M&P chain to ATC to New England Theatres, and finally to Sack.