Rex Theater

2 Western Avenue,
Cambridge, MA 02139

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The Olympia Theater near Central Square in Cambridge was located in a unique narrow triangular building, richly decorated and about four stories high. The unusual shape of the structure was dictated by the triangular lot bounded by River Street, Western Avenue and Franklin Street. The theater’s marquee was at the narrow end of the building, facing toward Central Square. The Olympia Theater was operating in 1916 and still operating in 1941.

By 1950 it was known as the Rex Theater.

Contributed by Ron Salters

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 1, 2006 at 10:05 am

This 1916 map shows the Olympia Theatre. It is near the map’s top left corner, colored brown, in the narrow triangle bounded by Western Avenue, River Street, and Franklin Street.

By the 1970s, this site contained a gas station. Some time in the 1990s, the gas station was torn down and replaced by the current not-very-useful open green space.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 12, 2007 at 10:42 am

The Cambridge Historical Commission lists the period of existence for the Olympia Theatre as 1910 – 1954.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 4, 2008 at 10:27 am

Seems very doubtful to me that there would have been two different theatres with this name.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 4, 2008 at 11:17 am

Ass far as I know, there was just one Olympia Th. in Cambridge in 1919. Although the MGM Report says it had 600 seats, the 1927 FDY lists 900.

RikS
RikS on August 15, 2008 at 7:42 pm

This Olympia theatre was the Rex theatre when I was growing up in Central Sq around 1950. I remember Superman there many times—RikS

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 16, 2008 at 3:59 am

Thank you. Do you know when and why it closed and was torn down?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 15, 2010 at 3:16 am

An article on the opening of the Rex can be found in Boxoffice Magazine, October 30, 1948:
http://issuu.com/boxoffice/docs/boxoffice_103048
Go to page 75.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 18, 2013 at 11:33 am

The reason the Olympia Theatre was shown in brown on the Sanborn map that Ron Newman linked to on March 1, 2006, is because it was still under construction at the time the map was drawn. The April 22, 1916, issue of The American contractor reported that architect William Mowll was preparing plans for the Olympia Theatre Company’s new house at Cambridge. The firm of Mowll & Rand also designed the company’s Olympia Theatre at New Bedford, opened the same year.

link0612
link0612 on June 29, 2015 at 10:05 am

Actually, the Olympia is shown in brown on the Bromley map (not Sanborn!) because it was made of stone. Sanborn and Bromley used different coloring styles. You can also see the Olympia in brown on the 1930 Bromley atlas: http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=411

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 29, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Thanks for the correction, link0612. I wasn’t aware that the two companies used different coloring styles.

Gerald DeLuca’s link to the 1948 Boxoffice article about the opening of the Rex is dead. The article is now at this location. It has no photos, unfortunately.

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