Rialto Theatre

709 South Street,
Boston, MA 02131

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Rialto Theatre

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This theatre in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston has been alluded to on other pages of Cinema Treasures and on some local nostalgia websites discovered via Mr. Google. I am posting it, although not a neighborhood resident or even a Massachusetts resident. I did, however, see a movie there once. The theatre used to be visible from Washington Street as one drove to or from downtown Boston.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

Was the Rialto originally called the “Roslindale Theatre”? In the list of theatres in the Boston Register and Business Directory, Issue 85, 1921, there is a Roslindale Theatre, 711 South Street. (The 1941 MGM Theatre Report says it was at 709 South Street).
Oddly, in the 1918 edition of the same publication, there is a “Roslindale Theatre moving pictures” listed at 4255 Washington Street, west side of street, between Poplar Street and Ashland Street to the north, and Grove Street to the south. I’m not familiar with that theater. The South Street address is correct for the Rialto.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 27, 2011 at 10:38 am

In the 1921 Boston street directory, there is nothing at all listed for 4255 Washington St.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 18, 2011 at 11:01 am

A further clue that this theater was originally called the “Roslindale Theatre” is in a May 1919 Boston Police Dept report which CT member Edward Findlay has found. In routine license matters, it mentions Charles J. Gorman, prop. of the “Roslindale Theatre” at 703-711 South Street and 411 South Street.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

411 South Street? Google Maps puts that address in the middle of the Arboretum.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 25, 2011 at 11:06 am

Yeah, I don’t understand that at all; at first I thought it was the residence of Charles Gorman, the theater’s manager. (Maybe he lived in one of the trees).

MarkB on May 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Here’s the Rialto in 1924, listed as C.J. Gorman’s Amusement Enterprises.

View link

I remember driving by in the mid-1970s after they tore it down, and being amazed how small the footprint of the building seemed to be.

MarkB on April 19, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Ron Salters – I just found this on a Roslindale Historical Society web page: “There was Rand’s Corner, and then there was the library where the Rialto Theatre is now, but that was moved, that was only a wooden structure. And there was also a movie place where we watched silent movies.” This silent movie house must have been the one at 4255 Washington street. The building was one in from Corinth street, but there’s no mention of a theatre on the fire insurance map. Perhaps just a small hall used for showing silents.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 20, 2013 at 11:14 am

Yes, in the 1905-1915 period, it was common to rent small neighborhood halls and exhibit movie shows in them.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 21, 2013 at 10:24 am

Regarding the exterior photo posted above, I don’t know what year Sean Connery in “Diamonds are Forever” was released, but the exterior of the Rialto obviously had a drastic make-over and modernization, because its appearance is very different from the exterior photo taken in May 1941 for the MGM Theatre Report.

DougC340 on December 16, 2014 at 1:28 am

I remember going to the Rialto theater in the 1940s. Back then, before we all had TV, the serial movies on Saturday afternoon were the highlight of our young social lives. For 12 cents, and later 14 cents, we could watch a full movie, several cartoons and a serialized story, usually a cowboy movie. These were so important to most of us that we bent whatever rules were imposed on us so we could attend. In my case, my mother had decided I should take violin lessons on Saturday afternoon from the minister. I had no choice but to do so, but when it came time for the Christmas recital — the reason no doubt the minister was contributing his time for my lessons — I intentionally blew it so badly that I was thereafter excused from the violin lessons and could resume my beloved Saturday afternoon movies. How we cheered on the good guys and booed the bad guys in those films! It is wonder we did not blow the place down, as well.

Also, I had my very first date at that theater. I was in the fourth grade and so was she. I forget what we saw, but the whole thing made me feel very grown up. A very pretty little girl with dark brown hair — I remember her name and face to this day, 65 years later (!). The next year we moved to West Roxbury, and a different theater, but I will always cherish my memories of the Rialto Theater.

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