Boston Theatre

539 Washington Street,
Boston, MA

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EdwardFindlay
EdwardFindlay on March 29, 2011 at 6:43 am

Old sign visible just months before closure of the theatre and adjacent firehouse: View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 11, 2011 at 10:49 am

In a 1918 Boston street directory, the Boston Theatre is listed at 539 Washington St. Out back, there is a Boston Fire Dept building listed at 20 Mason St. This housed Engine 26, plus the Fire Chief’s office. This fire station was adjacent to the Boston Theatre’s stage, just to the north. In the 19th Century, one of the fun things that the firemen and the stagehands did was to run horse-drawn fire engines from the firehouse through the scene loading door and onto the Boston’s big stage. Ed Albee purchased this fire station and demolished it along with the Boston Theatre, to make a larger footprint for the RKO Keith Memorial/ Opera House.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 15, 2008 at 10:48 am

During Christmas week of 1921, the movie “The Iron Trail” plus News, plus Vaudeville acts on stage, was playing at the Boston Theatre.

DeborahY
DeborahY on July 4, 2007 at 1:58 pm

I’ll try tomorrow. Thanks.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 4, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Can you scan it in and post it somewhere, then link to it here?

DeborahY
DeborahY on July 4, 2007 at 11:28 am

I have a program from the Boston Theatre from 1894. Can anyone tell me where I can get it appraised?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 25, 2006 at 8:38 am

The Boston Theatre is listed in the 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide. The seating capacity is given as 3,172. Admission prices range from 25 cents to $1.50. Eugene Tompkins was the manager. The proscenium opening was 50 feet wide x 40 feet high, and the stage was 90 feet deep. The orchestra had 14 members.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 27, 2006 at 7:25 am

There is some info about the Boston Theatre on pages 185-6 of the book “National Trust Guide to Great Opera Houses of America” by Karyl Lynn Zietz (1996, John Wiley & Sons). The author points out that the B.F. Keith organization paid $1M for the theatre in April 1909. She contends that when it closed there was no gala farewell performance. The Boston Herald of October 4, 1925 carried an item that the theatre would close that night. After the usual Sunday evening movie (title not given) ended at 1045PM, the curtain was lowered with no further fanfare.

AlLarkin
AlLarkin on May 16, 2006 at 10:46 am

Didn’t the Keith-Albee Boston, RKO, eventually become the Cinerama Theater?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 13, 2006 at 7:13 am

An early movie engagement at the Boston Theatre occured in the Spring of 1897. The heavyweight championship boxing match which took place in Reno NV on March 17, 1897 was filmed. James J. Corbett was pitted against Bob Fitzsimmons and, after 14 rounds, Corbett won. In addition to his activities as a professional boxer, Corbett was also a popular actor. (His hit show “A Naval Cadet” played in Boston at the Bowdoin Square Theatre in 1897). Each round of the match took up one reel of film. The film process was called “Veriscope”. The movie ran for 4 weeks at the Boston Theatre, according to Don King’s Boston theatres history.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 12, 2006 at 7:52 am

Here is a postcard image of the exterior of the Boston Theatre in 1911. On the program was Sarah Bernhardt performing from L'Aiglon, Jeanne d'Arc, and Camille.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 17, 2006 at 8:13 am

Yes— it was demolished in the spring of 1926.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 15, 2006 at 4:03 pm

Thanks for adding this one. I had thought about doing it myself, but wasn’t sure it had shown movies.

You can see the Boston Theatre near the top left of this 1895 map, in the middle of the block bounded by Washington, West, Mason, and Avery streets. It immediately adjoins Keith’s New Theatre and the Bijou Opera House.

On this 1928 map, the Boston Theatre has been replaced on the same site by the B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre. The Keith Memorial appears to have a slightly larger footprint (along Mason Street) than the Boston Theatre did.

Immediately after the old Boston Theatre closed, a new Keith-Albee Boston Theatre opened as a replacement, two blocks to the south and on the other side of Washington street. You can see this theatre as well on the 1928 map, as part of the Washington-Essex Building bounded by Washington St, Essex St, Harrison Ave, and Hayward Place. The Keith-Albee Boston was later renamed to “RKO Boston”.

One correction: if the old Boston Theatre’s last show was on October 4, 1925, then it could not have been torn down “in the spring of 1925”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 15, 2006 at 8:23 am

The design for the auditorium was won in a competition by one H. Noury. The architects were E. Cabot, J. Cabot, and Jonathan Preston.The entrance on Washington Street was in the exact location of the entrance today to the Opera House (ex- Keith Memorial Theatre).