Gordon's Theatre

362 Broadway,
Chelsea, MA 02150

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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

The Theatre Historical Society archive in Illinois has the MGM Theatre Report for the Olympia Th. in Chelsea. Listed at 376 Broadway, it was in Fair condition, and had been presenting MGM films for over 10 years. It had 820 orchestra seats, 475 balcony seats, and 125 seats in the loges; total: 1,420 seats. There is an exterior photo taken in April 1941.

EdwardFindlay on April 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

The theatre partly sat on the property of this building destroyed during the Great Chelsea Fire of 1908: http://www.olgp.net/chs/d4/graniteblock.htm

1909/1910 is only timeframe for it’s construction and opening due to that area of the city being destroyed by the fire of 1908

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

The April 7, 1909, issue of The Moving Picture World has this item in its “Notes of the Trade” column: “Chelsea, Mass.â€"The Gordon Amusement Company, of Boston, has had plans prepared for the erection of a large vaudeville theater here.”

The same year, a letter from Local 7 of the Bridge and Structural Iron Workers Union was pusblished in the October issue of trade union journal The Bridgemen’s Magazine, listing a theater in Chelsea among the projects then underway on which the Chelmsford Iron Company was doing structural and/or ornamental iron work. Given these dates, it’s likely that Gordon’s Theatre opened in late 1909 or early 1910.

The November 15, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World said that the Gordon interests had taken control of the Empire Theatre in Chelsea, and would operate it as a movie house. Gordon’s Theater would present stock company shows. The changes had been scheduled for November 10.

EdwardFindlay on March 26, 2011 at 6:19 am

Link to images I mentioned years ago, page 125 has a picture of the Gordon in the distance, Olympia marquee and: View link

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 24, 2011 at 11:43 am

Thanks Edward,great picture.Good stories.

TLSLOEWS on March 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Thanks Edward, I like the sign the says High Class Vaudeville.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 11, 2010 at 11:16 am

The Olympia in Chelsea is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 800 seats and open daily. I don’t know if that seat count is correct. The 1927 FDY lists 2 other movie theaters in Chelsea: the Broadway with 1,000 seats, open daily; and the Strand with 900 seats, also open daily.

Gabfest on August 19, 2010 at 8:58 pm

There were actually four movie theaters in Chelsea, perhaps not all operating at the same time. The first theater you would come to walking from Bellinham Square was the Broadway, situated on the right side of Broadway. Across the street on the second floor of a business block was the Chelsea. Further down Broadway on the same side as the Broadway theater was the Olympia (just after Allen’s Cut-Rate Perfumes. Finally there was the Strand theater in Chelsea Square on the left side of Broadway-in the same block as Bloomburg’s Furniture Store. All of them were gone in the 1960’s replaced by a theater in the shopping mall off Webster Av. known as the Parkway Plaza theater.

EdFindlay on June 17, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Looked at “Chelsea in the 20th Century” again and something I missed before on Page 26: a picture from the late 1910s featuring Broadway point north and lo and behold there is “Gordons” in a vertical marquee on a building at roughly the same stie! The theater probably underwent some kind of renovation and they removed the vertical marquee with the later horizontal but it is clearly the same site as the Olympia- so everyone was on the same page but in different eras.

EdFindlay on June 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

It was at some point called “Olympia”, I’ve got two pictures from the book “Chelsea in the 20th Century” that confirm the theater at 362 Broadway as being the Olympia.

One is showing the old Broadway Theater closed directing people to “The Olympia” and another picture from roughly 1953 showing a marquee stating “Olympia”

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 29, 2008 at 10:52 am

Thanks to Barry Goodkin I have seen an old postcard which comes from the collection of Lloyd Gordon. It is the typical hand-colored postcard from the 1910-20 period and is titled “Gordon’s Theatre Chelsea Mass.” There is a fancy one-story narrow entrance with a rain canopy over the sidewalk and a vertical sign reading “Gordon’s” above. To the right of the entrance are storefronts and in the street is a trolley car. In back is the large brick bulk of the theater. It appears that this was the type of theatre where you walked in from the street and then turned right to face the stage and screen. To the left of the entrance is a vacant lot with a huge garish billboard which says “This is Gordon’s Theatre, High-Class Vaudeville” with details about performance times and ticket prices.
Barry is of the opinion that this theatre is the one later known as the “Olympia”.

barrygoodkin on July 27, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Nathan Gordon operated a theatre circuit as Olympia Theatres. Many of his theatres were known as Olympia. Gordon was a motion picture pioneer who was aslo involved in film distribution. He was one of the organizers of the First National Exhibitors Circuit in 1917 and held the New England franchise for First National Pictures.
In May 1925 he sold his interest in 38 theatres, including the Olympia Theatre in Chelsea, to Famous Players (Paramount)along with his franchise for First National. Gordon also held a 50% interest in Maine and New Hampshire Theatres which also became a part of the Paramount theatre organization.
In 1920 Adolph Zukor (Famous Players) joined with Alfred S. Black to form Black New England Theatres, Inc.
In 1930 Olympia Theatres was merged with New England Theatre Operating Company to become New England Theatres.
Around 1934 Paramount went into bankrupcy and the theatre operating companies being reorganized with Paramount no longer owning 100% of the thaetre companies.
The New England Theatres became M&P, (Mullin & Pinanski). Paramount was reuired to separate their theatre operating companies from the production company M&P was separated into two separate companies with Marty Mullin heading New England Theatres, made up mostly of the old Olympia properties and Sam pinanski heading American Theatres which consisted mostlt of the old NETCO properties.


rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 10, 2008 at 10:36 am

In the Boston Post theater page for Nov. 11, 1951, M&P Theatres is gone and replaced by New England Theatres Corp. (NETC). For Chelsea there is now only one theatre, the Olympia, which was presenting a double feature show. When M&P broke up after WW II, some of its theaters went to NETC, and some went to the new American Theatres Corp. (ATC). Possibly, the Broadway Theatre in Chelsea became an ATC house.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 6, 2008 at 10:08 am

In Boston Post theater pages which I have from circa-1945, May 1947 and Sept 1947, there are ads for M&P Theatres (Mullin & Pinanski) which list the Olympia and the Broadway theaters in Chelsea. There are phone numbers but no street addresses. Neither theater had continuous showings- there was a matinee at 145PM or 2PM, and an evening show at 730PM. They usually presented double features. M&P took over the old Paramount-Publix theatres around the early-1930s. There were executives in M&P who were old associates of Nathan Gordon.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 5, 2008 at 10:07 am

In the Boston Post of Feb. 25, 1931, Paramount-Publix Theatres has an ad which includes local neighborhood houses. For Chelsea they have listed the Broadway and the Olympia theatres. This was around the time that Paramount-Publix took over most of the Nathan Gordon movie theatre circuit. Unfortunately, there are no street addresses in the listings. We know that “Olympia” was a favorite theater name for Gordon. And the address above says “Broadway” in Chelsea. So this theater could have been the Olympia or the Broadway.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 3, 2008 at 10:03 am

“Gordan” was almost certainly Nathan Gordon who ran a circuit of movie theatres in the Boston area in the 1910s and 1920s. I know there were 2 or 3 movie theaters in Chelsea, but I don’t know much about them. But as of 1942, M&P Theatres, a Paramount affiliate which was a successor to Gordan, had 2 theatres in Chelsea, the Broadway and the Olympia. One of those two was probably this one.