Loew's State Theater

205 Massachusetts Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115

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Showing 1 - 25 of 53 comments

DavidZornig on November 27, 2015 at 10:13 pm

June 1927 poster added courtesy of Gianno Dv.

rivest266 on May 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm

This opened on March 12th, 1922.

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.

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.”

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.

TLSLOEWS on March 1, 2011 at 3:23 am

Thanks for the info Clement.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm

When it was called the Donnelly Memorial, who was Donnelly?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm

As a kid, circa-1950, I called it “Loewsstateandorpheum”, all one word, because they ran a joint newspaper ad. They usually ran the same movie at both theaters. Examples: Nov. 11, 1951 “An American in Paris” at both theaters; May 16, 1947 “Duel in the Sun” at both theaters; Sept 23, 1947 “Down to Earth” at both theaters. But on Feb.25, 1931, they ran seperate ads next to each other, with a different movie at each house. (I have some old theater pages from Boston newspapers). In 1931 there was still Vaudeville at the Orpheum so perhaps that’s why they ran a different film there.

dick on November 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

If my memory is right I believe that the Orpheum theatre ran the movies(mostly MGM) for 2-3 weeks first and then they transferred to the State for another 2-3 weeks before going to the suburban theatres.

TLSLOEWS on June 12, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Nice 1956 photo of LOEWS STATE-BOSTON

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm

I clipped a large display ad for the Loew’s State from either the Boston Globe or the Boston Post in late-Feb. 1951. I clipped it because it was advertising a stage show there which was not common by that period. The ad says “Loew’s State only” because they usually ran a combined ad with the Loew’s Orpheum as “Loew’s State and Orpheum” due to the fact that the same movies played both houses. This ad says “Happy Days are Here Again! America’s Biggest Stage and Screen Show. On Stage- America’s Foremost Quartet, the Ink Spots, stars of stage-screen-radio. Jack E. Leonard, "Fun by the Ton”. Ada Lynne “Curvacious Clown”, Winik & Mae “Dancing Stars of Hollywood Blackouts” (the Hollywood Blackouts was a long-running stage revue out there). Larry Green, his piano and his Victor Recording orchestra featuring Bobby Doyle. On Screen- This girl is in trouble- Loretta Young in “Cause for Alarm”, MGM’s Surprise Thriller. Try (to) Guess the Surprise Ending! Doors open 11 AM."

BobEvans on October 20, 2007 at 4:33 am

The Wurlitzer Pipe Organ was rescued by the Eastern Mass Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society and is now playing happily in Knight Auditorium at Babson College in Wellesley, MA.
The Chapter runs a successful concert program. For details contact: www.emcatos.com

Bob Evans, President, EMCATOS

diholds on December 26, 2006 at 10:55 am

I remember seeing little Stevie Wonder playing Fingertips at the Donnelly Theatre in 1961 or 1962. I also saw Mary Wells perform there.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 2, 2006 at 4:21 pm

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for Loew’s State on Mass. Ave. in Boston has an exterior photo taken in 1941. Attractions posted in white letters on a dark background are Cary Grant in “Penny Serenade” and Robert Young in “The Trial of Mary Dugan”. The Report states that the theatre is a MGM customer, that it’s in Good condition; and has 2054 orchestra seats, 1225 balcony seats, and 318 loge seats; total: 3597 seats.

AlLarkin on August 13, 2006 at 7:20 pm

Almost got to see one of their last movies at the Loews State. Hitchcock’s North BY Northwest was playing in late Spring of 1959. My father accompanied me to sign up at a school and as we walked past the State I suggested seeing NNW, but he wanted to get back to Springfield. For a year I walked by the Donnelly Memorial and felt what a waste because they weren’t doing much with it. Cardinal Cushing made the decision to buy that theater and turned it around at a good profit by selling the property at the going market rate later. He also did the same with a little struggling TV station, WIHS, now known as WSBK-TV38.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 28, 2006 at 3:19 pm

Further to the Feb. 27 comment above regarding abuse of Eminent Domain laws: Hannity & Colmes on Fox News regularly have had a feature about this problem, with reports from various locations around the country. Most of these reports are very troubling.

bcnett on February 27, 2006 at 3:54 pm

The organ from the theatre is now in Babson College’s Knight Auditorium.

JimRankin on February 27, 2006 at 8:13 am

Back then they called it Urban Renewal and demolished huge swaths of buildings in many cities, supposedly for the public good after which it seems contractors and others to whom the politicians owed favors in exchange for campaign contributions, somehow got the najority of the rehab contracts. Nowadays, there is no real need to claim Urban Renewal, since the Supreme Court has just reinterpreted the Eminent Domain clause of the Constitution to mean that any government can take anything for what the politicos define as “Higher Use.” I wonder for how long our remaining grand old theatres occupying prime real estate wanted by ‘contributors’ will be able to stand against this new legalized rape of cities? Go and take your photos now, for you know not what tommorrow brings!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 26, 2006 at 3:22 pm

Parts of the City of Boston were divided into Urban Renewal Areas circa 1960. The theatres on Mass. Ave. were part of the Fenway U.R. Area. These areas were considered “blighted”, so that’s why there was no Back Bay U.R. Area or Beacon Hill U.R. area. The State and the Fine Arts theatres and the adjacent massive castle-like storage warehouse were thought to have no viable future, so the land was given over to new uses. That’s the way they did things in those days; we use to call it “Urban Ruin-all”.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2006 at 10:39 am

This 1928 map shows the Loew’s State – Fine Arts complex, occupying most of a city block bounded by Massachusetts Avenue, Astor Street, Bickerstaff Street, and Norway Street.

It looks massive. Besides the two theatres, the map also shows it containing a “BALL ROOM”.

I never saw these buildings, but I’m appalled that the city fathers at the time allowed them to be demolished, especially since they were apparently well-used up to the date of demolition.