Showing 1 - 25 of 167 comments
Woops….sorry Ron. I hadn’t fully figured out how the new format worked and failed to see the button that accesses the earlier comments.
Kind thanks to nvargelis for the link to the images.
I haven’t visited Cinema Treasures in quite some time. I’m shocked to see the extensive posts that documented the attempts to save this theater are, like the venue itself, gone. Anyway, the Publix Gaiety, had superb acoustics, was located in the Theater District, an area which had at one time had special zoning considerations. Whether or not it could have survived economically as a theater, I don’t know. Its demolition was an architectural loss.
Thanks to all for clearing this up. Tom
Mark—That’s crazy, and at a 12-plex no less. Perhaps Landmark made a big charitible contribution. They should, since they may put some of the single screens out of business. In Boston proper, the first run single screens are gone, though a number of them survive in the ‘burbs where I live, just the opposite of what you’d expect.
Ken—many thanks for this great photo. Tough to date it. Late forties maybe? Not enough cars around to help with that. The buildings to the left and right still stand, though the building to the right is now a Dunkin Donuts instead of a drug store. The building on the left is a dry cleaner. Can’t tell what it was then. I’d forgot the theater had a marquee that big, some landscaping in front, and some decorative trim around the windows. The utility wires are underground now.
Does anyone know what the original neon sign looked like? I recall from my extreme youth seeing the marquee for Ben Hur on this building, and it wasn’t all that neoney, IIRC. I don’t think it was the original marquee either. Lots of times, marquees used little light bulbs instead of neon. Now that it’s a performing arts center, I’m not sure either would be all that appropriate. In a forced choice, I’d go for little light bulbs, I guess.
Thanks for posting the screening of this documentary. Will it be available on DVD or shown on PBS?
James—Beautiful series. Thanks! tom
Ron S.—Thanks for the Herald reference. Such an irony that the Glass Slipper lives on, evidently with an assist from city hall. The demolition of an important theater in a historic district for theaters defies logic. The loss of the Publix/Gaiety still hurts. This is why no demilition ever should take place until a project absolutely, positively is ready to roll.
If I recall correctly, the emergency exits in the theater opened into the adjacent underground garage near the ramp for the cars, so in an emergency, there was a direct, unobstructed, and relatively fireproof, exit up to Tremont Street. After the theater closed, they knocked down the walls and created more parking.
There’s a group called “Emerging Cinema” or something, that franchises a system of showing art films in small venues in digital video which is a less expensive way to exhibit. Maybe you could run something like this in the small theater and celluloid in the big theater. Just a thought.
They’d never do it, and it would be nice if the owner replaced those backlight mural type signs on the marquee with the old style movable lettering. The theater would look a little more like a restoration than a renovation. That said, given how much Westwood has changed since I visited when I was a kid in the 1970s, it’s a miracle the building still stands and still retains as much of its original character as it does. Interesting that GCC (General Cinema) owned it for a time.
The Lake Theater building is currently closed. When Palm Beach CC could no longer operate the museum, philanthropist Robert Montgomery bought it and re-opened it as the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art. When it became a financial burden to continue its operation, and when no other supporters could be found, he closed the museum. A few years ago, the slope of the auditorium floor was flattened to create the museum space.
Ron-I’m pretty sure it was open the year round and that they most likely had AC. I can recall going to a matinee there during the summer. The office building has been decently maintained. I don’t know who owns it now.
That’s an interesting article from the Herald, paticularly with regard to Boston being a gateway city for wealthy people from overseas. They consider U.S. prices a bargain. Anyway, it’s clear that the Copley Place Cinemas didn’t have a chance with Simon’s present strategy. And as the article also observed, Chilis' days are probably numbered as well.
Ron: You’re right. It’s fairly recent. They own fifteen properties in Massachusetts, according to their web site.
I didn’t know Simon owned Copley Place. They also own the South Shore Plaza, among many others. I would have thought that having the theater would bring in more business for the retail stores and restaurants and extend the hours people would visit. In addition to the SS Plaza, I’m familiar with Palm Beach Mall in West Palm Beach, FL. also Simon-owned. Like C Place, both these shopping centers had movie theaters at one time, but no more. Maybe they don’t generate enough revenue to pay the rents Simon charges. In WPB, they demolished the theater, and the site remains a vacant lot at this writing. At SSP, they transformed the theater (the original GCC Braintree) into a retail store (Circuit City).
Most likely the new performance center will accomodate World Music and others. That’s surely part of the business plan. Ironically, if the Gaiety had remained to be used as a performance space, the concert series could have continued there during construction.
If the city allowed the Gaiety Theater to be demolished in the theater district, it seems highly unlikey that this isolated theater will be saved, particularly since the interior has been drastically altered. Boston could have been developed as a midrise city with careful preservation of a wide range of buildings that could have been woven into a fabric including new construction puncutated by the occasional high rise. Instead, we seem to be getting more and more towers.
Richard—I hope you see this post. Was the Braintree Theater air conditioned? Since I could walk there easily from home (I was between 10 and 14 years old), I went to several kids matinees before it closed. Those matinees could be bedlam. Such behavior would never be tolerated today. I believe it closed around 1961 or so. It was purchased by Mr. Joseph Barile of Barile plumbing, which was directly in back of the builidng, and converted to the offices and retail you describe. It was a decent conversion, and it’s still there, though I wish it had hung on as a theater. The ZIP code is actually 02184. It was a popular theater. Friends of my folks who lived in surrounding towns would go to evening shows there.
Thanks to all for the updates on the McClurg. As I mentioned above, I lived in the area and enjoyed the theater in the mid to late seventies. I sure hope they re-open. I’ll follow your posts with interest. A gazillion people live within walking distance. Surely the place would make money.
Patsy: It was changed to its present day look prior to the establishment of the historic district and/or appearance review. I agree that, without the marquee, the building no longer really looks like a movie theater. It no longer is a movie theater. It’s simply an Art Deco/Moderne building. And still, it did avoid demolition, escaping the fate of other downtown buildings.
Patsy: I’d have to check, and I think the theater is in a historic district. I know it’s in an area where any alteration to the appearance must be reviewed by the planning board. I’m not sure what level of landmark designation it has. As of this date, it’s unused. It would be nice if another non-profit/arts organization could occupy the space.
Ack, I forgot the link: here it is: