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I toured this venue with a Theatre Historical Society group in 1989, and also went to a couple of concerts there. Never to a movie. At one concert I was seated in somewhat of a circle around the main floor seats; the floor was wood. When the gigantic organ opened up, the vibrations from the bass came right up through the floor into the soles of my shoes. Amazing! And it’s a very impressive old building.
Effective Nov. 1st the parent organization running the Wang Theatre (and the Shubert Theatre across the street) will be the Boch Center for the Perf. Arts. Ernie Boch Jr owns automobile dealerships started by his late father, runs a rock band, and is a pop music historian. So the theater names will be “Boch Wang” and “Boch Shubert”.
Ron- I’m not sure about that- I have never seen anything listed here in recent years. One activity inside is “deconstruction” – removal of anything that does not fit in to a restored theater. Anyone who comes by while there is a work party inside is welcome to look around.
There will be an open house at the State Th. on Sat. 6/18 from 10AM. They have open houses occasionally to maintain community support. Work continues on various projects inside waiting for the day when major financial help arrives. Meanwhile, Avocados, a popular new Mexican restaurant in Whitman, is about to open a location in Stoughton, right next to the State’s entrance.
The business page of today’s Boston Herald reports that the deal-making began in March and that Boston University will sell the theater for $25M to a real estate developer who is working on behalf of the Huntington Theatre Company. The building of sets and scenery on-site will be moved elsewhere and the space will be developed into retail on the ground floor and housing above. There will be some refurbishment of the theater. Yes, almost certainly the theater’s name will be changed, probably to “Huntington Theatre”.
Ron Newman- Plans are not firm to build anything on the site- Owner is mulling possibilities. He purchased the theater to raze it or convert it into a large Asian foodmarket, but then his original older plan to convert a factory in N. Quincy has recently been approved after a long struggle. So now he has two sites. There are vague plans to save and sell off some artifacts from the “Wolly” at some future date. See Quincy Patriot Ledger, Sat. June 4 2016 edition.
Demolition began about June 1st. First action was to remove the seats, then they began to gut out the interior. The failure to save “The Wolly” all boils down to one important thing: $$$$ Money $$$.
Yes, Spectrum is correct- the Town Hall auditorium was used as a commercial cinema and is listed in some of the old Film Daily yearbooks.
The building which contained the Pi Alley cinema is to be demolished at some future date so that the parcel can be “redeveloped”. I learned this from the business news in the Boston Herald.
oldasdirt45- OK, then. To recap- The Opera House remained in use for such things as kids' Halloween parties as late as the 1950s, and was obliterated when the upper floor (containing the theater) was demolished sometime 1970s-80s when the remaining ground floor was remodeled into the South Coastal Bank office. Does that sound right? Also, I think I may have been misled a long time ago by something on-line which gave the impression that an earlier Rockland Opera House became Hibernia Hall by 1904, and was located “where South Coastal Bank is today”. It would appear that Hibernia Hall was in the Rockland Opera house building, and there was no earlier theater by that name.
oldasdirt45 – Early- to mid-1950s is good enough for me; I just want to get an idea of when the theater was still being used for something. When I first heard about the Rockland Opera House, I learned that it ceased showing movies (silient) by 1930, so I assumed that it was demolished sometime in the 1930s, then I learned that it was in use as a community theater venue up until at least the early-1940s. So it’s nice to know from your postings that it lasted much longer than that before it was demolished and replaced by the bank bulding.
oldasdirt45 – Thanks for finding the location. Do you recall what years the Halloween parties for kids were held there?
Here we go again- another news item with no obvious city/state. Reading it, one realizes that the Holly is in the state of Oregon, possibly in Medford. A couple weeks ago I sent the THS office a message about these unidentified news items – no response.
Just a short walk down Boylston St. to the west of the Colonial Theatre is a long-closed small concert hall called Steinert Hall. It was in use from the 1890s to about 1942 when it was closed by the owner, the M. Steinert piano company. Seats removed, it is intact and even the lights still work. But it’s 2 floors underground at its front end. I think it has issues with regard to the number of emergency exits. The old building was recently sold to one of M. Steinert’s customers who is a developer. He plans to rehab and update the building, with the piano company remaining as a tenant. And if he can get approval from a public safety point of view, he plans to restore and reopen Steinert Hall. (This auditorium would have made a great art-house cinema, with a name like Underground Cinema or The Lower Depths Cinema.)
I have heard that there is a project at the Music Hall to fit the facade with some sort of colorful marquee. The theater sits on a narrow side street and does not have much visibility downtown.
At one of the internet auction sites recently there was a lot of 16 old theater programs; 14 were from New York theaters, one was a program for a play in 1910 at the Park Theatre on Washington St. in Boston (later, the Trans Lux/ State), and one was for a 1911 touring show at the Rockland Opera House.
Two THS members went inside the Art around March 2005 while scouting for the 2006 Boston convention of THS. It was operating at the time. I was not with them. The entrance was on the far right of the building with a nice staircase going up one flight. The proscenium and stage were at the left end of the building. They stated that there was a second screen in the balcony, however the visitor in 2008 reported that the auditorium was whole. Anyway, the front wall of the building served as the left sidewall of the theater.
The problem is that the THS finds these news items in newspapers and then reprints them in their newswire and then transfers them here to CT. The items make sense to local readers reading their local newspaper, but they don’t make sense to us in CT because there is little or no identification of city/town. CT readers post complaints about it, but obviously no one at THS reads these complaints!
There will be competition in the future for this cinema because this week ground was broken for the big “The Hub” building on Causeway street on the site of the old North Station and the old Boston Garden. The first phase of The Hub will include a 60,000 sq.ft. Star Market and a 60,000 sq. ft. 15-screen ArcLight Boston cinema. There will also be a music hall for live acts run by Don Law & Ed Kane. This news is from a long article in the business section of today’s Boston Herald.
Mike L., who grew up in Rockland (b. 1937) and was an avid movie fan there in the 1940s and early-1950s, had no knowledge at all of the Rockland Opera House. He did not even hear about it until he was an adult. He doesn’t know exactly where it was located. When we talked about it a few years ago, he attempted to contact someone he knew who was very much into town history, only to learn that she had recently passed away. Another opportunity lost.
Yes, because only a real “political Junkie” from outside New Hampshire would have ever heard of the Manchester Union Leader, a paper infamous many years ago for its blatant racism (since cleaned up). The fact remains that these news stories should have the city, and state/province/country on them. There have been complaints posted here in CT several times in the past but no one seems to have read them.
The THS transfers these news stories to CT from their on-line newsletter. Doesn’t anyone there read them? Do they think that readers know in what city the Union Leader newspaper is located? The lead sentence should say “The Manchester NH Union Leader…” Then readers would know that the story is about the Palace in Manchester NH. Basic journalism.
There was an earlier Rockland Opera House which became Hibernia Hall, a social/fraternal facility. It may have been located at 279 Union St. (not sure of that). The opera house was on a long list of theaters and halls in Massachusetts which received state licenses during 1920. John Bowler was Mgr. then.
The Rockland Opera House was listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 500 seats and open 2 days per week. Competition was the new Strand Theatre in Rockland. The reduced seating capacity may have been due to the fact that the balcony was closed permenantly.
The Rockland Opera House is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. It had 985 seats, electric illumination, and was located on the second floor. The proscenium opening was 26 feet wide X 17 feet high, and the stage was 30 feet deep. Edward Wicher was Mgr; There were 2 weekly newspapers and 4 hotels for show folk. The 1897 population was 7,000.