New Nickelodeon

51 Hanover Street,
Boston, MA 02114

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This small theater, located in the Scollay Square area, opened on December 23, 1894 as the Nickelodeon Musee and Parlor Theatre. It occupied 3 floors and was located across from the site of the Casino Theatre on Hanover Street. The theater may have been on the second floor and probably did not have more than 300 seats. By 1912, it was Walker’s Nickelodeon and boasted a penny arcade and a shooting gallery. The theater featured "The Big Girl" show and required an additional admission fee. Movies were probably also shown then.

By 1918, it was the New Nickelodeon, featuring moving pictures and burlesque on stage. It was gone by 1921. Its section of Hanover Street was obliterated in the 1960’s.

Contributed by Ron Salters

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 18, 2011 at 9:01 am

This was a honky-tonk operation. I don’t know if it was all-new construction when it opened, or if it went into a remodelled structure (probably the latter). I also don’t know what happened to it after it closed. It’s very possible that the building remained right into the early-1960s when the entire area was bulldozed.
The site today is occupied by the rear (low-rise) wing of the JFK Building in the Government Center.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

We associate the name “Nickleodeon” with the early years of film exhibition. Yet, this theater used that name a decade prior to the coming of commercial movies.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 19, 2011 at 8:28 am

The comedian Fred Allen, in his autobiography, mentions this theater since he hung out in Scollay Square as a youth and young performer, 1912-14. He says that admission was a nickle, but the show cost an extra dime; and he points out that the theater was “upstairs” and not on the ground floor. He says that one of the girls in the girly show on stage also acted as stage hand, and was paid extra. The chief attractions in the complex were the penny arcade and the shooting gallery; (may have had a pool hall, too).

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 25, 2011 at 8:29 am

Fred Allen never performed in this theater but he went into it, apparently more than once. He said that the interior of the theater was about as classy as the inside of a packing case.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 8, 2011 at 8:19 am

In the Street View photo above, the New Nickelodeon was located, approximately, where the group of trees are growing, in front of the rear low-rise wing of the JFK Federal building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 2, 2013 at 9:29 am

The Nickelodeon Theatre was mentioned in the Boston Police Departments records for 1919:

“On the application of A. L. Wolffe, Manager, Fred E. Hanscom was appointed a Special Police Officer for duty in and about the premises of the Nickelodeon Theatre located at 51 Hanover street for the year ending March 31, 1920.”

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