Bowdoin Square Theatre

Bowdoin Square,
Boston, MA

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A lost theatre of Boston’s Scollay Square, it is mentioned very briefly in David Kruh’s book “Always Something Doing: A History of Boston’s Infamous Scollay Square”.

If you have any information about this theatre, please post it. It started out as a vaudeville stage, but I believe movies were later shown in it.

In the early 1960s, nearly every building in Scollay Square, including all of its stage and movie theatres, was demolished to make way for Boston’s Government Center.

Contributed by Ron Newman

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 5, 2006 at 7:09 am

In his 1977 book “Broadway Down East” Elliot Norton states that the Bowdoin closed on Friday, May 27, 1955. Norton has very few closing dates in his book, so he must have made a note of this one. If there had been any advance publicity of the closing, I would probably have attended.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 7, 2006 at 1:20 pm

The Bowdoin Square Theatre is also shown on this 1895 map. It is on Court Street, three buildings away from Chardon Street.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 8, 2006 at 7:22 am

Note that the nearby Palace Theatre is also on the 1895 map, at Sudbury and Court streets, east side.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 25, 2006 at 8:43 am

The Bowdoin Square Theatre is listed in the 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide. The seating capacity is listed as 1,600. Admission prices range from 25 cents to $1. The theatre had both electric and gas lighting. The proscenium opening was 32 feet wide x 34 feet high. The stage was 40 feet deep. The theatre was on the ground floor and there were 10 places in the orchestra pit.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 25, 2009 at 11:53 am

There is a rather long article entitled “Boston Theatres of To-Day” by Atherton Brownell in the Sept. 1895 issue of Bostonian Magazine. It has 2 photos of the Bowdoin Square Theatre, one exterior and one interior. Plus one sketch of the box office area in the lobby. It’s hard to tell, but in the exterior shot, the arch above the entrance appears to be open and not filled in. Th entrance was very fancy, but not very wide. It was at the left end of a building. The interior shot was made by someone standing in the right-front orchestra area looking toward the front portion of the left side-wall of the auditorium. It was quite ornate. The proscenium arch appears to be rectangular. Next to its left edge was a large arch with columns on each side. At the bottom of the arch were 2 big boxes on the orchestra floor. Above them were 5 small boxes which dropped like stair treads from the front of the first balcony down to the right end of the arch. At the top of the arch was a chandelier. Very nice auditorium, now gone for over 50 years.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm

In a 1918 Boston street directory, the Bowdoin Square Theatre is listed at “0” Bowdoin Square. Its office is listed at 183 Court St. To the left of its lobby entrance was the Hotel Coolidge.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 15, 2011 at 10:38 am

This theater’s entrance and lobby were constructed in an existing building which dated back to at least 1860. In the book “Boston Then and Now” (Dover 1982) there are photos dating from 1860, 1925, and 1934. The theater entrance is missing from the first photo.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 30, 2011 at 6:00 am

This theatre is mapped on the wrong Bowdoin Street (Dorchester, not Beacon Hill), far from where it belongs.

dgidez
dgidez on August 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm

My Uncle was an usher at this theater in 1948. Admission was $.12 for Children and $.25 for adults.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on August 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

I was a junior-size movie goer in 1948, and the admission prices that dgidez quotes above are correct for a second-run movie theater like the Bowdoin. I usually paid from 15 cents – 25 cents for tickets at that time.

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