Surf Theater

432 Humphrey Street,
Swampscott, MA 01907

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Surf Cinema

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Built in 1951, the Surf Theater was the first theater in the area to have built-in widescreen accomodation. It had a large auditorium including an upper balcony/lounge area that was converted in 1979 to a second screen.

I have fond memories of attending this theater particularly on the Saturday kiddie matinees (25 cents admission!!) that were shown on a weekly basis. It was located on Humphrey Street just across from the ocean and Fisherman’s Beach. It was closed July 14, 1983 and was soon demolished. I believe the valuable property now houses apartments or condos.

Contributed by Alan Abrams

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 2, 2006 at 5:51 pm

According to a Boston Globe article from September 4, 1983, the last shows at the Surf were ‘Yellowbeard’ and ‘Psycho II’, on July 14, 1983. It was torn down during the second half of July and all of August.

It was twinned in 1979.

FrankGayton
FrankGayton on June 5, 2009 at 10:10 am

Growing up on the North Shore, I often attended movies at The Surf. It was beautiful in its 50’s way. I particularly remember taking my grandparents there one summer evening in 1975, to see YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. My gosh, how they laughed! My grandfather always remembered going to The Surf to see THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG; “the whole theatre smelled of Chinese insense!” Those were the days.

JonMontgomery
JonMontgomery on January 7, 2010 at 2:10 am

I remember taking dates to this theater in the 1960’s. I was sorry to see it go but I guess the property it was on became more valuable than theater operations could ever be. Anyway, it was a very beautiful, very modernistic, clean and well maintained theater with a classy 1950’s styling right by the ocean. I may be wrong here but I think it was owned and operated by American Theaters Corp (ATC). I think the stand alone marquee outside had a very small “ATC” written above the big “Surf” letters. I have a picture from 1966 I will see if I can find. I’m standing in the Surf parking lot with my girlfriend (now my wife) next to my 1965 Mustang ragtop.

da_Bunnyman
da_Bunnyman on August 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Easy to see why the real estate was so valuable, the theater was literally across the street from the ocean. A nice house but kind of long and narrow. When it was twinned they split it crosswise sparing it from becoming the dreaded twin bowling alleys. If you were sitting in the back house you’d see the projectionist walk down the aisle to another booth to start the show in the front house.

MurrayI
MurrayI on April 8, 2016 at 3:40 pm

I grew up in Swampscott and spent many rainy Saturday afternoons watching the movies here with my friends. There was often a treat there for us as my mother’s mother, with whom I was very close, worked there both as a cashier selling tickets and behind the candy counter. One of the movies that made a lasting impression on me was “Old Yella.” Also, that was where my High School graduation ceremony was held and for several years, when our Temple had outgrown the facility in Lynn, we were able to make arrangements with the O'Brien family (owners) to use the Surf for our High Holyday services while our Swampscott Temple was being built; which brings to mind those special moments when I would sit next to my father in the darkened theater, converted to our temporary house of worship and how proud I was when he was called to the bima (stage) to participate in the service. The Surf Theater, like so many other one-of-kind community facilities across the country was integral to that special place we called home.

Murray Davis, April 8, 2016

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