Olympic Theatre

6 Bowdoin Square,
Boston, MA 02114

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The Olympic was a small and obscure theatre which stood in Bowdoin Square at the opposite end of the block from the better-known Bowdoin Square Theatre. It was a small cinema and probably dated to the 1910 period. It was still open in 1927 according to the Film Daily yearbook.

A Deco-style telephone company office building was erected on its site in the early-1930s.

Contributed by Ron Salters

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 7, 2006 at 5:12 am

The Olympic Theatre is not mentioned at all, as far as I know, in the Boston theatre histories written by Charles Grandgent (1932), Elliot Norton (1978), Douglass Shand Tucci (1978) and Donald King (2005). Don King knew of the theatre but didn’t write about it in his book which suggests that he couldn’t find any mention of it in ads or other copy in Boston newspapers. It is not listed in an 1895 roster of Boston theatres which I have, but it is in a 1921 list. At first I thought it might have been a small house for vaudeville and minstrel shows, but the fact that it’s listed in the 1927 Film Daily yearbook means that it was showing movies then. Possibly, it was an early 1910-era neighborhood movie house. And it was the “Olympic” and not “Olympia”, as pointed out in the posting above. In downtown Boston, there were “Olympia” theatres, both large, in Scollay Square and on lower Washington Street.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 7, 2006 at 11:19 am

The Olympic Theatre is not on this 1895 map of the same area. It looks like the same building is there, but it is labelled “COOLIDGE HO.” rather than “MAJESTIC HOTEL”.

The Bowdoin Square Theatre is on the 1895 map, on Court Street three buildings away from Chardon Street.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 7, 2006 at 11:24 am

David Kruh’s book on Scollay Square history also does not mention the Olympic, even in passing. He was unfamiliar with it when I asked him about it in e-mail.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 16, 2006 at 2:11 pm

Correction: the Olympic IS mentioned in Donald King’s recent book; however, the mention is not in the main text but in Appendex 1 at the back of the book. He lists it as opening “circa-1905”, that it was a motion picture house, possibly Walker’s Museum of 1904; that it may have been the Theatre Joliette of 1907, which was also very near the Bowdoin Square Theatre; and that it was “demolished in the 1930s.”

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 19, 2006 at 4:47 am

I once saw an old photo which showed the entrance of the Olympic on the left side of the photo and the facade of the Bowdoin Square Theatre on the right side, with a hotel seperating them. The Olympic had an arch over the entrance just like the Bowdoin Square. The Boston theatres history book written by Donald King states that the Olympic opened about 1905 and may have been called the Theatre Joliette for a short while around 1907. It was an early movie house.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 6, 2007 at 7:32 am

The Olympic is listed in the 1928 Film Daily Yearbook as being part of the Boas Circuit of 40 Court St. in Boston. Boas operated 22 movie theatres in 1928, 5 of which were in Boston.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 29, 2011 at 9:29 am

The Olympic is listed under “Theatres” in both the 1918 and 1921 editions of the Boston Register and Business Directory. At 6 Bowdoin Square.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 31, 2011 at 8:45 am

The name of the hotel which was located between the Olympic Theatre and the Bowdoin Square Theatre was “Hotel Coolidge” in 1918, according to the 1918 business directory. The hotel was to the right of the Olympic, and to the left of the Bowdoin Sq. Th.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 30, 2011 at 3:26 am

The map does not show the correct location of this theatre. It was not on Bowdoin Street on top of Beacon Hill, but rather in Bowdoin Square at the bottom of the hill. I’ve updated the Street View to show the telephone company building which now stands where the theatre was. I don’t know how to update the map.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

In the Street View photo, the Olympic was located about where the fancy bronze door is on the left side of the ‘Deco phone company building in the left-center of the photo. Just to the right of the double light pole.

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