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The old theater building is now in the hands of Reading Community Television (RCTV) which has gone out of its way to give the place a “theater” feel to it. Movie posters from its golden age hang in the lobby. Posters from famous movies that were shown there adorn the hallway. One is for “Camelot,” the last movie ever shown there. The studios also include a screening room for about 40 people, and movie nights have been held there. The grandfather of the current director was an employee of the the Reading Theater.
The theater building was demolished in the early 1970s, I believe. It is now the site of a Dunkin' Donuts.
Much of the Wakefield theater burned in early 1972. Ironically, the week before the fire “The Last Picture Show” was playing. As I remember “The Concert for Bangladesh” had just opened, the day before the fire. Part of the building still exists and houses a set of retail establishments, jointly called the “Old Theater Block”. The front portion, which contained the marquee and entrance is now the parking lot for the building. It is located on Main Street in downtown Wakefield.
The building that housed the Reading Theater still exists. Until recently it housed a retail establishment called “Fabric Town” which closed its doors in early 2007. The future of the space is uncertain.
A couple of quick updates on theaters mentioned above: The North Reading Cinemas started life as the “New Meadows Cinemas.” It had two screens. It later became the “North Reading Cinema.” Starting with the two screens it had, it later added a third one upstairs in an existing store room. It was called “The Screening Room.” It has long since closed, but the building still exists as office space called “North Park”.
The Surf in Swampscott is gone, replaced with condos.
The West Peabody Cinemas began as the “Jerry Lewis Theaters.” The owners had big plans for it, and had hoped Jerry himself would come to the opening. He did not. It was part of a chain, advertised as one in which “a husband and wife could run the entire operation.” The building later became the Jewish Community Center, and still later was leveled and is now part of the parking lot of the ajacent strip mall.
The building was torn down in the mid ‘80’s, I believe, and was replaced by the headquarters of the Winchester Savings Bank. Toward the end of its life it was used in a “Jean Shepherd” made-for-TV movie (of Ralphie, Flick, Schwartz, and Randy fame) called “Phantom of the Open Hearth”. In the movie, it was called the “Orpheum”, and was the site of a toungue-in-cheek “Gravy Boat Riot”.