Washington Theatre

720 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

The theaters time-line in the back of Don King’s Boston theaters history book lists a “Lyric Theatre” from March 1907 at 734 Washington Street. This would have been a very short distance to the south of the Washington Theatre. But the Lyric at this address is absent from the 1918 and 1921 Boston street directories, so it must have been a short-lived nickleodeon.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm

In a 1918 Boston street directory, the Washington Th. is listed at 720 Washington St., on the east side of the street. The first business on that side of the street south of the intersection with Kneeland St. was a United Cigar store at 704 Washington. These United Cigar stores were usually small, hole-in-the-wall operations. So the theater entrance was a little way south of the intersection.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 25, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Charles Grandgent, in his 1932 essay, “The Stage in Boston in the Last Fifty Years”, says that the Washington Theatre was “still running” in 1932.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 23, 2009 at 8:17 pm

The chronological list in the back of Don King’s Boston theaters history book says that the Washington Theatre opened on Oct. 2, 1911 at 720 Washington St. It was demolished sometime in the 1930s.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 17, 2008 at 7:30 pm

I think you’re correct. Part of Stuart St. was called Eliot St. many years ago; in fact, I seem to recall that the name of the parking garage located a few doors down from the Plymouth/Gary Theatre entrance was the Eliot Street Garage. The Washington Theatre was on Washington St. at the corner of Kneeland St., and would have been opposite the east end of Eliot St.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 16, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Opposite Eliot, maybe? Streets in this area have been moved around a lot in the last few decades, but I think there used to be an Eliot Street.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 16, 2008 at 8:03 pm

The Washington’s ad in the Boston Globe during Christmas week of 1921 has the address, 720 Washington St., and then what looks like “Opp. Elio” (Opposite Elio ?? Don’t know what that means.) It says Continuous from 3 PM to 10 PM, there were 2 feature films playing Mon-Wed, and another pair Thurs-Sat. The house was apparently closed on Sundays.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 5, 2006 at 4:15 pm

There is a map “Boston Theatre District” published by the Boston Preservation Alliance in 1993. The map shows location of theatres and former theatres downtown from West St. south to Hollis St.. It lists alternate names for some of the theatres. For the Washington Theatre there is the curious annotation that it was also known as the “Lyric Theatre”. For awhile in the early 1930s, under Shubert control, the old Keith’s Theatre was known as the Lyric (before the name was changed to Normandie. ) This was the only use of the name “Lyric” that I know of downtown.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2006 at 12:09 pm

The Washington Theatre is labelled as such on this 1928 map. It is at the right edge of the map, on the bottom (east) side of Washington Street, at the corner of Kneeland.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 8, 2006 at 6:06 pm

A 1969 photo of demolition in this neighborhood. Photo is described here. You’re looking north on Washington Street towards Kneeland. In the distance is the vertical sign for the Pilgrim (former Olympia) theatre.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 8, 2006 at 5:50 pm

Albiani’s Restaurant was one-plus story high and had above the windows a wide black plastic-like facing, just like the building on the left in the first photo above, taken in 1947. However, I too am puzzled by what appears to be writing in Hebrew on the facing. Anyway, this was the site of the Washington Theatre.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 8, 2006 at 5:37 pm

Another photo of the same corner, described here. However, the Washington Theatre/Albiani’s site is cut off, beyond the right edge of this photo. In the distance you can see a large vertical sign for the Olympia theatre.

It looks like this used to be an important district for furniture stores.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 8, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Whoops, I gave you two identical links to the photo, instead of one to the description. This is the description.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 8, 2006 at 5:26 pm

This is a 1947 photo of the corner. The photo is described here.

If I understand the orientation of the photo correctly, the site of the Washington Theater, and later Albiani’s restaurant, was at the left side of the photo. But the sign on that building appears to be in Hebrew!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 8, 2006 at 4:23 pm

Washington Street just south of Kneeland St. was full of many old commercial buildings. In the 1960s it was possible to stand on Washington St., look west, and view the entire east wall of the Metropolitan/ Music Hall/ Wang Theatre. There was a large parking lot which ran from Washington Street all the way up to the Met.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 7, 2006 at 2:26 pm

The whole area south of Kneeland Street suffered extensive ‘urban renewal’ starting in the 1960s and would be unrecognizable today to someone who last saw it fifty years ago. Tufts-New England Medical Center has expanded onto the site mentioned here.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 6, 2006 at 5:58 pm

An Albiani’s Restaurant was built on the site of the Washington Theatre. Albiani’s was a local chain. I think that the restaurant was of new construction, and not a reworking of the old theatre. The restaurant can be seen in the MGM photo of the Stuart Theatre taken in May 1941. I think that Albiani’s Restuarant lasted on this site into the 1950s and 1960s. I suspect that the Washington Theatre may have been similar to the Stuart, but with more seats.