Orient Palace Theatre

985 Bennington Street,
East Boston, MA 02128

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Orient Palace, 1922

Viewing: Photo | Street View

A neighborhood cinema in East Boston, across the harbor from downtown operating since at least 1941. Its marquee was designed in an Asian style, but I don’t know if the motif was carried through the lobby and auditorium. It was still open in 1957.

Contributed by Ron Salters

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 18, 2007 at 9:37 am

The Orient Palace Th. in East Boston was included in the MGM Theatre Photograph and Report project. There is an exterior photo dated March 1941. The entrance spanned the width of a 2-story structure which was white or some other light color. There was a rectangular marquee, the design of which was influenced by a Beijing Imperial Palace roof line. Attractions are Gene Autry in “Melody Ranch” and Deanna Durbin in “Mad about Music”. There is a centered box-office and a pair of fancy-framed poster cases. The Report states that the Orient Palace has been presenting MGM films for over 10 years; that it was built about 1922, is in Good condition, has 820 seats and is a “neighborhood” house. In the 1942-43 Motion Picture Yearbook Marget Theatres of Boston is listed as operating the “Day Square Theatre” in East Boston, and I wonder if that is this theatre.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 12, 2008 at 12:53 pm

“Someone Who Was There” tells me that as of a few years ago at least, the Orient Palace was still intact and not in really bad condition inside, and was being used for commercial storage space.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 5, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Anyone have a full street address for this one?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 17, 2009 at 10:47 am

Thanks for the street address. Now, is ‘Closed/Demolished’ accurate? When I look at this location with Google Street View I see a building that looks like it might once have been a theatre.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I went to Google and looked at the Street View, comparing it to the photo take March 1941 on the MGM Theater Report. The light gray building in the center with the 2 windows is, indeed, the Orient Palace entrance. The red-brick building to the right, next to it, was there in 1941, complete with the little peak on the facade. To the left of the theater entrance in 1941 was a vacant lot, which is still there today. In my post above on 3-12-08 I mention that I was recently told that the theater was intact and in good condition inside, as of a few years ago. So, it is “Closed” but not “Demolished”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

The Day Square Theatre mentioned above was listed at 284 Bennington Street in a Boston business directory, issue 85, which I think is 1921. So it was not the same as this theater which is at 985 Bennington.

EdwardFindlay on March 18, 2011 at 5:27 am

A shot of the theater entrance: View link

Part of an old advertisement for the theater and subsequent businesses in adjacent properties is visible:
View link
“Orient” “Bowling Alleys” and “Dancing”

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm

The facade in Ed Findlay’s recent photo above is definitely the same facade as in the 3/1941 MGM Theatre Report photo. The marquee was attached just below the two windows. There was a recessed entrance below with a center ticket booth.

Dlrespaul on September 19, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I had a business on the second floor above the stores in this building in the 90’s. The landlord used the theater as a furniture warehouse for his store in Chelsea and gave me a tour. The inside was demolished down to the outer walls leaving no trace of the theater. The only things remaining were the concession stand and the manager’s office in the lobby. The picture previously posted shows a restaurant occupying the lobby. The door at the top of the fire escape was the rear fire exit from the auditorium and the projection room had a small door with a ladder down to the fire escape but not the ladder shown in the picture. The building has been completely remodeled with a Rite Aid now occupying the theater auditorium and most of the old storefronts. The restaurant and a couple of businesses occupy the rest of the stores. The basement was a bowling alley and was converted to a billiard hall. My father went to several movies here and said the vibration and noise from the adjacent train tracks was annoying and contributed to the theater’s demise. He said it was fairly plain compared to the Seville in Central Square.

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