Community Playhouse

370 Washington Street,
Wellesley, MA 02481

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DENNISMAHANEY1 on January 15, 2016 at 4:03 pm

I saw a number of films here it was always well run think it showed more art films of the day English ie TUNES OF GLORY next to the theater on could ice cream, these times when I was a usher in FRAMINHAM, as a teen from NATICK

sartana on September 4, 2013 at 5:29 am

A very detailed article about the incredible sound system which was installed at the Playhouse along with a picture of the auditorium. (PDF reader required)

HPS-4000 sound

dce6644 on May 20, 2012 at 6:18 am

People forget that prior to video, the James Bond films were in constant re-issue as double features and we went to see them again and again. The Community Playhouse was certainly one of the places we went to see them. If I had a nickel for everytime I saw “Thunderball” / “You On ly Live Twice”…

Playhouse Saturday matinees were a haven for anyone who loved comedies, especially anything with Danny Kaye or Jerry Lewis.

sartana on May 12, 2012 at 3:21 am

This was the theatre where the prototype of what would eventually be called HPS-4000 sound system was first installed. Please visit the HPS-4000 site and click on “Building Audiences” for more info.

ErikH on September 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Another Westonian here and I knew that family as well—-the Spencers. A lot of good memories from seeing films there in the 70s and 80s. I remember being impressed when the Spencers invested in a Dolby stereo system around 1980 (and my recollection was that the investment was substantial). It was highly unusual for a second run theater in those days to invest in a stereo system; most first run theaters in Boston and the suburbs were not equipped for Dolby,yet the Playhouse was.

CineSister on August 29, 2011 at 6:29 am

I grew up in Weston, and was friends with the family that owned the Playhouse in the 70s. I remember the .75 cent matinees. What a treasure!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 19, 2010 at 11:23 am

The Community in Wellesley is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 800 seats and open 6 days/week.

nightfly on August 15, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Growing up, I probably saw more films here than everywhere else combined. As someone noted earlier, it was around the plainest theatre I’ve ever attended — very much like an old-fashioned school auditorium with a projector installed. You went here for the great movies, not the small-town atmosphere. I also recall that the screen could be rolled up and the proscenium used — never saw a play there, but the M.I.T./Wellesley College Symphony gave a concert once where I sat in the balcony.

nathang on August 4, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Alas, the marquis has been removed as of this year (2008).

What a great theater this was. I’m so thankful to have had it until I was 15. Everyone I knew was sad to see it go.

tobaccocard on June 17, 2008 at 6:19 am

When I moved to Wellesley in 1972 I was struck by the “plain-ness” of the Community Playhouse.

It offered an austere New England atmosphere unlike the grand theatres I had experienced in New York and Chicago.

I felt it had a lot in common with early New England churches.

I somehow felt the term “playhouse” was an attempt to distinguish from a “theatre”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 21, 2006 at 8:42 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Community Playhouse in Wellesley has a facade photo taken in April 1941. There is a 3-sided marquee with a flat front panel on which is printed “Community Playhouse” in script letters. The other 2 panels have “Playhouse” in large letters with 3 lines for attractions below. The film playing is “Strawberry Blonde”. At the top of the center panel appears to be a planter with flowers in it – I’m not sure of that. Below the marquee is a double set of French doors with poster cases on either side. The Report states that the Community is at 370 Washington St. in Wellesley Hills; that it has been playing MGM product for over 10 years; that it was opened about 1925; that it’s in Good condition; and has 499 seats, all on one floor. It attracts a “class” patronage (meaning “high-class”).

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 21, 2005 at 1:20 am

Here is a photo of the Wellesley Community Playhouse from 1981.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 5, 2005 at 8:12 am

A different Globe article, published on July 27, 1986, says that the building was constructed in 1921 as a recreation facility for Babson College, then became a movie house in 1924. I don’t know which article is correct.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 5, 2005 at 8:10 am

The Community Playhouse ran its last movies on Saturday, February 28, 1987. The last day’s films were a matinee of Lady and the Tramp and an evening show of Children of a Lesser God.

According to a Boston Globe article published that day, the Playhouse opened in a former schoolhouse in 1921.

snorwood on February 22, 2005 at 7:09 am

I believe that the theatre was always intended for motion-picture exhibition, but cannot confirm that.

The theatre was rather successful, but closed in 1986 or 1987 because the building was sold to a developer; it is now a dreadful mini-mall called “Playhouse Square.” At least they kept the marquee mostly intact.

I saw many films there as a child growing up in Wellesley and remember the theatre (and its chandelier, big green curtains, and antique ticket-grinding machine) fondly. They always put on a good show and the theatre was always clean and well maintained. Prices were reasonable, too. A small popcorn was $.75 in the mid-1980s.

The building was conceived and built by Roger W. Babson in the 1920s. There was originally a cafe adjacent to the theatre and a bowling alley (!) in the basement.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 30, 2004 at 7:01 am

Was this theater ever used as a live stage? Its name suggests that it was.

ErikH on November 18, 2004 at 4:54 am

I knew the owners of the Community Playhouse, and the decision to sell the family-owned business in the mid-1980s was a very difficult one.

The family had taken great pride in maintaining the theater over the years. Case in point: although the Playhouse only showed second runs, the owners installed a Dolby sound system in the early 1980s—-a time when many first run theaters in the Boston area hadn’t upgraded to Dolby. The last film I saw there was “Crocodile Dundee” in 1986; the Playhouse closed soon afterwards.

Can someone please correct the name of the theater? I don’t believe that the Playhouse was ever known as “Community Theater.”

William on November 20, 2003 at 2:20 pm

The Community Playhouse was located at 370 Washington Street and it seated 499 people.