425 Hampshire Street,
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Opened in 1924, the Washington Theatre was named for the park of the same name which it faces in downtown Quincy. The Washington was one of many vaudeville and movie houses on Hampshire Street, which was Quincy’s own “Great White Way”. Most of the theaters, such as the Adams, the Orpheum, the Bijou, the Quincy and the Savoy have either long ago been closed, or more commonly, torn down.
The Italian Renaissance-style Washington Theatre, which sat just under 1,500, was designed by Chicago architect E.P. Rupert. It featured a Mighty Wurlitzer organ, and a depiction of George Washington on the fire curtain. Its ornate facade was covered in terra-cotta, including polychrome masks of comedy and tragedy.
In 1926, the Chicago-based chain of Balaban & Katz assumed control of the Washington, and not only remodeled its decor, but added a new stage, an air-conditioning system, rebuilt the dressing rooms and, a couple years later, wired the Washington for sound, becoming Quincy’s first “talking pictures” house, with the film “The Lights of New York”. Vaudeville and stage shows were featured as well through the 30s under Balaban & Katz.
In 1971, the Washington was sold to the Kerasotes Theatres chain, which continued to operate the theater as a first-run house for another eleven years. After closing the theater, Kerasotes donated the Washington to the City of Quincy. From the late 80s until 2000, another organization owned the building and while it made repairs to the facade and storefronts, the auditorium was used for storage space.
In 2000, the City of Quincy once more acquired the Washington. For the past couple of years, the Friends of the Washington Theatre has been raising money (its goal is $1.1 million for the initial phase of restoration) to return the landmarked old movie palace (which has fallen into a state of disrepair over the years) to its former splendor.
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