Imperial Theatre

619 E. Broadway,
South Boston, MA 02127

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The Imperial Theatre was the smallest of the three movie theatres in the South Boston area of Boston. It was located on East Broadway near the intersection with I Street. It may have been an “upstairs house” (located on second floor). Further information welcomed.

Contributed by Ron Salters

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 28, 2007 at 8:51 am

There is a MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Imperial Theatre in South Boston. It has an external photo dated April 1941. The theatre had a narrow entrance at the left end of a building at least 3 stories high. There was a small, but very bright , triangular marquee above which was a large sign with bright letters reading “Imperial Theatre Moving Pictures”. Below the marquee was a double door with poster cases on each side. The movie posted on the marquee is Cary Grant in “In Name Only”. It’s possible that the auditorium was upstairs on the second floor. The Report states that the theatre is on “I Street” (“eye”), but the streetscape looks more like Broadway. The Report says that the Imperial is not a MGM customer, that it’s over 15 years old and is in Fair condition, and has 500 seats. Does anyone know anything about this long-gone little “Nabe” ? I know someone who grew up in “Southie” in the 1940s and 1950s and he, despite being a film fan, never heard of the Imperial.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 28, 2007 at 9:21 am

The Imperial Theatre, South Boston is listed in the 1943 edition of Film Daily Yearbook with a seating capacity of 600. It is not in the 1941 edition which I have or the 1950 edition.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 11, 2007 at 8:15 am

Boston film pioneer Joe Cifre in his long undated essay “Saga of the Movie Industry in Boston” says that the Imperial was one of the early movie houses in Boston in the post-1906 era.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I found the Imperial in South Boston listed in a Boston business directory, “Issue 85”, which I think is 1921. It lists the address as 619 East Broadway, not “I” Street. The Directory was on-line in Google Books and was not that easy to read.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 31, 2011 at 10:38 am

The street directory section of the 1918 edition of the Boston Register and Business Directory, Issue 83, says: “Imperial Theatre, 619 East Broadway, (South Boston)”. The Imperial was on the right side of Broadway as one headed east toward the harbor. It was east of I Street, and near Emerson St.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

The Imperial in South Boston, along with Hamilton Hall (Hamilton Theatre?) in Dorchester was run by a Mike Lydon in early 1914, according to comedian Fred Allen who played in small-time vaudeville at both theaters. I always assumed that the Imperial was strictly a film house and did not realize that there was live entertainment there, too.

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