Orpheum Theatre

1 Hamilton Place,
Boston, MA 02108

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Showing 126 - 145 of 145 comments

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 14, 2005 at 4:05 pm

On page 77 of Kevin Lynch’s book The Image of the City you will see a photo of Washington and Summer Streets in Boston. The photo is undated, but the book has a 1960 copyright. In the foreground is Gilchrist’s department store (now The Corner Mall). Behind it is E.B. Horn Jewelers, and behind that is a five-story-high vertical sign reading “LOEW’S”. Below the vertical sign is the Loew’s Orpheum marquee, but the photo is too small for me to make out what is advertised there.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 8, 2005 at 10:55 pm

re: “It isn’t used anymore for movies"
Well, technically that’s not entirely so. On November 2, 2002 I saw Godfrey Reggio’s "Koyaanisqatsi” here in a special event with composer Philip Glass conducting a live performance of his score for the film. I don’t know if the projection equipment was specially installed for that show or if there is still equipment in the booth. From the visual and musical standpoint I thought the whole event was top-notch.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 8, 2005 at 10:48 pm

The side-alley location of the Orpheum’s only entrance also puts the place out of sight and out of mind for many people. It used to have an entrance on busy Washington Street, and later it still had at least a marquee there, but now even that is gone.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 8, 2005 at 9:57 pm

Unless you go to rock shows, or occasionally jazz or country music shows, you don’t really think about the Orpheum. It isn’t used anymore for movies, opera, ballet, legit theatre, or anything else.

bunnyman
bunnyman on February 8, 2005 at 8:05 pm

Strange, such an old theatre but you never hear anyone mention it as historic or even treasured part of Boston.
Perhaps because it is used so much and never seems in danger of being closed or demolished.

Patsy
Patsy on February 4, 2005 at 8:01 pm

One of the oldest cinema treasures in the country? Opened in 1852!WOW!

bunnyman
bunnyman on January 28, 2005 at 8:58 pm

I believe the Orpheum had one last shot at a movie run in the 80s when a Paul McCartney film bypassed USA Cinemas and played there for a week or two.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 3, 2005 at 9:41 pm

If Loew’s divested its Boston theatres in the late 1960s, they didn’t stay away from the city very long. By the early 1970s they ran the Abbey Cinema near Kenmore Square. Once that closed, Boston didn’t see Loew’s again until they bought USACinemas (formerly Sack Theatres).

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 3, 2005 at 9:08 pm

The headers for this theatre need updating as follows;

Architectural Style : Adam
Chain: Loew's
Architect: Thomas W. Lamb

In 1900 the Orpheum replaced the Music Hall when the auditorium was totally turned around, now with a new stage and proscenium at the north end. For 15 years the Orpheum was a leading vaudeville theatre.

In 1915 Marcus Loew acquired the site. The theatre was gutted – only the north and south exterior walls are original from its days as the Music Hall. It opened on 20th January 1916 with 7 ‘family’ vaudeville acts. A Frazee 3 Manual/25 Rank Opus. 30. theatre pipe organ was installed (which had a reputation of having a notoriously slow action). The auditorium was in an early Adam style design by the architect Thomas Lamb, the proscenium being back-lit which was unusual for a Lamb theatre.

The Orpheum played movies for many years, sorry, I don’t know when these stopped, but in the 1970’s it was the home for Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Co. of Boston before they found a new home at Keith’s Memorial Theater.

Its opening seating capacity was 2,927, today as a concert hall it seats 2,763.

IanJudge
IanJudge on January 3, 2005 at 9:08 pm

I believe that it stopped showing movies around 1968 – but I think it was a Loew’s up until near the very end. All of Loew’s Boston area theaters were held by a subsidiary called (appropriately enough) Loew’s Boston Theatres, Inc.

The only other Loew house in Boston at that time was the Loew’s State, though previously Loew’s operated the St. James Theatre around the corner from the State on Huntington (presumably the State was a replacement for the older St. James at the time the State was constructed.) Since the Loew’s State was sold by Loew’s in (if I recall correctly) 1966, it is possible that the Orpheum was sold at the same time, when Loew’s decided to get rid of it’s Boston holdings.

IanJudge
IanJudge on January 3, 2005 at 9:08 pm

I believe that it stopped showing movies around 1968 – but I think it was a Loew’s up until near the very end. All of Loew’s Boston area theaters were held by a subsidiary called (appropriately enough) Loew’s Boston Theatres, Inc.

The only other Loew house in Boston at that time was the Loew’s State, though previously Loew’s operated the St. James Theatre around the corner from the State on Huntington (presumably the State was a replacement for the older St. James at the time the State was constructed.) Since the Loew’s State was sold by Loew’s in (if I recall correctly) 1966, it is possible that the Orpheum was sold at the same time, when Loew’s decided to get rid of it’s Boston holdings.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 3, 2005 at 8:39 pm

Does anyone know when the Orpheum stopped showing movies, and when it disaffiliated from the Loew’s chain?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 25, 2004 at 6:40 pm

From “Boston: A Guide Book” by Edwin M. Bacon, published by Ginn & Company, 1922:

Looking up Hamilton Place, opposite Park Street church, we see the side of the old Music Hall, now a theater. This is a building of pleasant memories. It was erected in 1852, projected chiefly by the Harvard Musical Association, then the representative of classical orchestral music in Boston. Nearly thirty years later (1881) the Boston Symphony Orchestral began its career here, under the generous patronage of Henry L. Higginson. Once the hall had in its “great organ” one of the largest and finest instruments in the world, but this was permitted to be sold and removed at a time when the hall was undergoing alterations. For some years, during the later part of his life, Music Hall was Theodore Parker’s pulpit; and at a later period that of W.H.H. Murray, after he had been a pastor of Park Street Church.

BrianKinney33
BrianKinney33 on May 9, 2004 at 3:11 am

After a renovation, this house re-opened as a performing venue under the name The Aquarius Theatre in either 1969 or 1970. Sammy davis was the first show under that name.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 7, 2004 at 1:13 pm

As a regular cinema, no! Symphony Hall was built as a concert hall. But films have been shown there in the past, especially during the silent era. There is a display case inside showing some of the films from that were shown there…such as a silent versions of CARMEN, some Russian silents like POTEMKIN. Also more recently when the Boston Symphony performed Prokofiev’s film-cantata “Alexander Nevsky”, Eisenstein’s film was projected and the live orchestra was used in place of the recorded soundtrack film score.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 31, 2004 at 5:33 am

The Orpheum was called the Music Hall in the 19th Century and was the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra until it moved to its new concert hall at the corner of Huntington Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue in Back Bay, namely Symphony Hall.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 14, 2004 at 1:30 pm

…and that address is 1 Hamilton Place and seating capacity is 2800.

Borisbadenov
Borisbadenov on March 14, 2004 at 5:22 am

Originally it had 3 entrances, the one mentioned on Wash. St., the current one from the alley called (I think) Hamilton Place, and one off Winter Street via the alley called ‘Music Hall Place’. The theater was first a music hall, then had a mezzanine and balconies added by architect Clarence Blakhall, around WW I; he also had his offices somewhere in the building. (He designed the Colonial, the Tremont Temple, the Wang Ctr, etc). The area at the Music Hall Place entrance is now part of the food court for a conglomeration of retail stores called ‘the Corner’, which replaced Gilchrist’s dept. store in the 80s. A friend told me they used to have ballroom dancing on the lower level of the current food court, so people could make a night of it when they went to the Orpheum. I went to many first run movies there as a teenager in the late 50s and early 60s. One reason we kids liked it was it was easy to sneak in! There were stage and fire exit doors unguarded at the alley off Bromfield St., and they were often left open from one group of kids to another.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 11, 2003 at 4:38 pm

The web site is now at http://boston.cc.com/orpheum.asp , and includes some history and photos.

William
William on November 20, 2003 at 11:41 pm

The original address of the Loew’s Orpheum Theatre was 413 Washington Street and it seated 2890 people. In the mid 50’s it was part of the Loew’s Theatre chain.