Merrimack Square Theatre

146 Paige Street,
Lowell, MA 01852

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Merrimack Square Theatre

The Scenic Theatre was opened August 20, 1910. By October 1910 it had been renamed Merrimack Square Theatre. I was never in the Merrimack Square Theatre, but I do remember it being torn down when I was in junior high school. Across the street from RKO Keith’s Theatre, the Merrimack Square Theatre had been carved out of corporation boarding houses associated with the Boott Cotton Mills, as I understand it. I also understand that it shared a manager with the other M & P property in Lowell, the Strand Theatre.

The Merrimack Square Theatre was still open in 1952, but had closed by 1955. It was one of the first major venues in downtown Lowell to be torn down in the name of urban renewal. It was replaced by, what else? A parking lot.

Contributed by Robert Provencher

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Rtprovencher on April 14, 2010 at 9:14 am

I am so impressed with the work of Mr. Roy and Mr. Salters. They have done much to fill in a huge gap in Lowell’s rich theater history. Mr. Roy’s picture of the site of the Merrimack Square today was taken at the corner of Bridge Street and Paige Street (named for Cecil Paige who owned Paige’s in the Square, a downtown restaurant/bakery/soda parlor)…the parking garage structure is on Paige. The space between the garage and the reconstructed apartment building shown on Bridge Street is approximately the same as the space between the Merrimack Square Theater building and the original apartment building previously occupied by the Merrimack’s entrance and lobby as shown in Mr. Salter’s photo. In that same photo, to the right of the Merrimack’s entrance, is a one-story building with a Spanish-tiled roof. The rear remnants of that same small building, replete with Spanish tile, still exist a block away at the corner of Bridge and French Streets. That view gives a good idea of the positioning of the old Merrimack. Although I was never in the Merrimack, I do remember it being torn down and wondering, “Why?”.

Changing the subject, I have a challenge for Mr. Roy and/or Mr. Salters. I also remember being told by the oldtimers about a theater, named the Hathaway, which existed at 150 Middle Street in Lowell, a building now occupied by Rogers Pool. I wonder what they can find out about it. I suspect the Hathaway existed in the 1800’s, was probably one of Lowell’s first theaters, and was constucted in a style reminiscent of Ford’s Theater in Washington, D. C. The back of 150 Middle Street still backs on my old dentist’s office. The loading doors for the stage are quite evident. Although I’ve been in Roger’s, I’ve never explored it to see if there are any remnants of the Hathaway.

jimroy on April 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

Hi Robert,
From what I know of the name Hathaway, according to the city directories it was located up the block and around the corner from Rogers Pool, on Shattuck at the corner of Market (or Market at the corner of Shattuck). I’m betting it was where the parking lot to the Athenian Corner is now.
It started sometime before 1896 as the Savoy until 1902, then the Casto Theatre from 1903 to 1905, Hathaway’s Theatre from 1906 to 1912 and finally the Playhouse Theatre from 1913 to 1918.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 14, 2010 at 10:39 am

Prov. and J.V. Roy- for some discussion about the Hathaway’s Theatre in Lowell, see the Page here in CT for the Hathaway’s Theatre in New Bedford MA. The Hathaway’s in Lowell was part of the Keith vaudeville circuit as of 1909. There was also a Hathaway’s Theatre in Brockton MA. Apparently, the 3 theaters were related.

jimroy on April 14, 2010 at 11:55 am

All I know of Hathway’s in Lowell is what I listed. If its the same hathaway as the other cities then he didn’t build it in Lowell, he bought it and renamed it. The next time I go back to the libraries there I’ll see what else they have on it since I didn’t really look in any detail.
Here, though, is a 1906 obit in the Sun about a policeman who worked the beat at Hathaway's
View link

RCBriley on April 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Hello all.
The Casto Theatre was originally The Shattuck Street Universalist Church. It underwent a series of uses, including dance hall and theater, after the congregation had moved elsewhere. I just found a photo of it in my search for images of Lowell’s nineteenth century dance destinations. J.V., you make absolutely the only reference to the Casto Theatre that a web search turns up. You seem so well informed, I have to ask, do you have any more tidbits of info on Lowell’s social scene a hundred years ago that you’d like to share? I’d be happy to trade research info!

jimroy on April 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Hi Ruth,
I don’t have much that isn’t available in the photo books of Lowell and what I got out of the directories in the library there. I’d love to see that photo and possibly add it to the galleries crediting you if you’re willing. Did I get the proper corner?
you can contact me through

TLSLOEWS on April 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Cool 1941 photo.

jimroy on April 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I’ve added Hathaway’s as the Playhouse Theater

Here you’ll find the picture that Ruth had and some others
Thanks Ruth

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

The Merrimack Square is listed under Lowell in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1,676 seats and open daily.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 28, 2018 at 2:41 pm

The March 11, 1940 obituary of Lowell architect Harry Prescott Graves in The Lowell Sun mentioned the Merrimack Square Theatre as one of his works. An announcement about the new theater then nearing completion at 146 Paige Street appeared in the August 18, 1910 Sun, but it called the house the Scenic Theatre. It was under lease to Jennings and Bradstreet, Boston-based operators of a chain of New England movie theaters. This article also noted Graves as the architect.

The Scenic Theatre opened on August 20, 1910, but the name did not last long. The name Merrimack Square Theatre was appearing in the paper by October 8. The management of the house apparently remained the same, however, as this notice appeared in the March 25, 1911, issue of The Nickelodeon:

“The Merrimack Square Theater Company of Boston has been incorporated with a capital stock of $50,000. The incorporators are William D. Bradstreet, William D. Bradstreet, Jr., C. Edwin Jennings and Frederick E. Jennings.

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