Humboldt Theatre

147 Humboldt Avenue,
Roxbury, MA 02119

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Humboldt Theatre, Roxbury, MA c. 1960

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Humboldt Theatre was one of several neighborhood movie theatres in the Roxbury section of Boston. The 1927 edition of Film Daily Yearbook states the Humboldt Theatre was under construction. At one time was part of M & P theatres circuit. It was closed around 1949.

Contributed by Ron Salters

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 22, 2007 at 7:35 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Humboldt Theatre has an exterior photo dated May 1941. The theatre entrance was at the right end of a 2-story commercial building. There was a modern triangular marquee with an arch above. Attractions are Gary Cooper in “Lives of a Bengal Lancer” plus “Meet the Chump”. The Report states that the Humboldt is at 147 Humboldt Ave. in Roxbury, that it has been showing MGM films for over 10 years; is over 15 years old and in Fair condition, and has 800 seats on the main floor and 500 balcony seats, total: 1,300 seats. It’s listed as a “Neighborhood” theatre.

MarkB
MarkB on April 26, 2011 at 11:18 pm

It looks like there were storefront stores along Humbolt ave, with the entrance at one end. The theater itself was set behind the Humbolt ave buildings, with the stage end of the building fronting on Waumbeck st around the corner. The site now is open, and beside the Trotter school, which I believe was built in about 1970. I went to Boston Tech at the time nearby, and I don’t recall seeing the theater.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 5, 2011 at 11:15 am

My copy (a Xerox) of the May 1941 photo on the MGM Theatre Report is very poor but it shows a long 2-story building with the Humboldt Theatre entrance at the right end, and at least 5 shops in a row to the left of the entrance. The building next door to the right has only one-story store fronts. It appears that you bought a ticket then went inside and turned left to face the screen.

alberwi
alberwi on October 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

According to the Northeastern University digital collection, this photo dates from 1949. It’s sort of hard to tell whether the theater is even operating or not…the marquee is blank and appears to be in poor repair, the poster display cases are empty, and the whole entrance looks decrepit. Does anyone know when this theater closed?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 27, 2014 at 11:10 am

The Humboldt appears to be in derelict condition and closed in the photo. It definitely is the same theater as pictured in 1941 on the MGM Theatre Report. In this photo, there appears to be the “ATC” logo on the apex of the marquee. (American Theatres Corp., a spin-off from M&P Theatres.) I looked under ATC theaters in a Nov. 1951 Boston newspaper theater page which I have and the Humboldt was not listed. This suggests that the 1949 date on the photo is correct. But I don’t know for sure when it closed.

alberwi
alberwi on October 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I read somewhere that M&P went down the tubes in large part as a result of the 1948 Supreme Court decision in the Paramount antitrust case, because the breaking-up of the Paramount monopoly deprived many theater chains associated with the Paramount empire of guaranteed access to first-run films. The cost of films charged to theaters by the studios also increased considerably. Possibly it was no longer cost-effective to run some neighborhood theaters, especially with television beginning to pose a threat at this time. Still, the area in which the Humboldt was located was still thriving economically, not yet having undergone the cataclysmic demographic upheaval of the 1950-1960 period, so I’m a little surprised it closed so early.

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