Loew's State Theater

205 Massachusetts Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115

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Loew's State Theatre exterior

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Opened in 1922, the Loew’s State Theater was a decadent movie palace with velvet seating, opera-type box seats and balcony seating.

Replete with a luxurious ladies room with chairs and sofas and huge mirrors around the room. The theater was filled with chandeliers and carpeted in an Asiatic theme. The theater also had a very large pipe organ and huge red velvet drapes that opened and closed at each showing.

After closing as a movie theatre in 1959, it went over to live performance and concerts use. Sadly, the old Loew’s State Theater on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston was demolished in May, 1968.

Contributed by 'Hayesnel'

Recent comments (view all 52 comments)

CSWalczak on February 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm

At the time the theater was known as the Donnelly Memorial, the theater was owned by the Archdiocese of Boston. Most likely then, the theater was named for Charles Francis Donnelly, who was closely allied with the diocese, especially in promoting the church’s charities and especially its schools, especially in the last part of the 1800’s and the early years of the 1900’s.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm

When the Loew’s State was first taken over by the Boston Archdiocese in 1959, I have a vague memory that it was called “Donnelly Family” Theatre for awhile; not sure of that. I assumed that it was named in honor of a Donnelly Family, but the name could also have implied that it presented attractions suitable for a “family audience”. There’s little doubt that Donnelly, whoever he was, was a supporter of the archdiocese. I also recall hearing that at the time the theater reopened with its new name, the Cardinal himself came to the Circle Theatre, which was located not far from his residence, seeking a spare pair of projectors.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm

One of the first events at this theater sponsored by the Boston archdiocese was some sort of presentation for Boy Scouts. This took place on Sunday afternoon, July 5, 1959. The younger brother of a friend in Quincy attended.

Shawn96816 on February 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Let me set the record straight, On September 11, 1959, The Archdiocese of Boston and Cardinal Richard Cushing renamed the Loew’s State Theater, located at 205 Massachusetts Avenue “The Donnelly Memorial Theater” in honor of the Late Mr & Mrs Edward Calvin Donnelly, Sr. of Back Bay. Their continuous devotion and contribution was closely involved with the Holy Cross Cathedral, located in the South End. Their work within the Catholic Church, had spanned over fifty years. The Donnelly Family had been involved in the Advertising Industry in Boston since 1850.

CSWalczak on February 27, 2011 at 1:44 am

Thank you for clearing this matter up. Now I am wondering if the Donnelly Company that prints phone directories in parts of the country is related to the company E.C. was connected to.

TLSLOEWS on March 1, 2011 at 3:23 am

Thanks for the info Clement.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm

According to the Boston Globe archives, the last show at the Back Bay Theatre was the Four Seasons on Sunday night, May 26, 1968.

wshanks39 on January 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm

The last show that I saw here was “The Kingston Trio” on stage around 1958. It was already re-named “The Donnelly Memorial Theater” at that time. Over the years, while growing up on West Concord St,I saw many movies here. The last movie I saw here was “I want To Live.”

MarkB on March 29, 2012 at 12:38 am

I added a from 1928 map to the Photo section that shows the State, the Fine Arts and the ballroom.

rivest266 on May 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm

This opened on March 12th, 1922.

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