Cross Street Orpheum

138 Cross Street,
Somerville, MA 02145

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The Cross Street Orpheum theatre opened in 1916 in the former First Universalist Church. It changed owners and names several times, becoming first Hoffman’s Orpheum and then Peterson’s Orpheum.

From the 1950s through the late 1990s, this building housed Bennett Plumbing and Heating Supply. In 2001, it was converted into the Sanctuary Condominiums.

Contributed by Ron Newman

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 27, 2006 at 10:01 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for Peterson’s Orpheum on Cross Street in Somerville has a facade photo taken in 1941. There is a large arch above the entrance which has an unusual gate across part of it. Projecting at right angles to the arch is a small attraction board. The Report states that the theater has been a MGM customer for 1 year; that it was built in 1890 (must refer to the structure itself); that it’s in Fair condition, and has 921 seats, apparently all on one floor.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 28, 2006 at 6:00 am

The Universalist Church is visible on this 1884 map, at the corner of Cross and Tufts streets, next to the Boston and Lowell Rail Road tracks.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 28, 2006 at 5:17 pm

According to David Guss’s excellent Lost Theatres of Somerville website (which I highly recommend), “the First Universalist Church was built on land donated in 1854 by Charles Tufts, just two years after he gave twenty acres to establish the university. The original wooden structure was replaced by a brick one after burning down in 1869.”

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 29, 2006 at 4:37 am

Also, the photo mentioned above is probably the first one on this page.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 3, 2010 at 10:07 pm

How many condos did they fit into the theater building?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 11, 2010 at 9:05 am

According to David Guss’s website Lost Theatres of Somerville, the Cross Street Orpheum opened on Monday, March 27, 1916.

I don’t yet know exactly when it closed. The Lost Theatres website has this 1941 photo where it is clearly open, and this 1945 photo where it appears to be closed and abandoned, which a blank marquee.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Answering ken mc’s question above, this building now has 17 condos.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 31, 2010 at 4:59 pm

David Guss’s article “Lost Theatres of Somerville”, from the First Quarter 2006 issue of Marquee, the journal of the Theatre Historical Society of America, is now online at View link .

Besides an extensive history, the article also contains many old photos of and advertisements for the various theatres in Somerville.

(This is a 17-page scanned-image PDF, so unfortunately you cannot search or copy the text.)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm

The Cross Street Orpheum is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 800 seats, open 6 days/week.

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