Uptown Theatre

239 Huntington Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115

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Showing 1 - 25 of 73 comments

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

When did Loew’s operate the theatre? Did it precede or follow Keith-Albee?

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

The St. James Theatre was expensively renovated by Keith-Albee in 1926, with claims of “Most Beautiful in Boston” and “No Bigger Show Anywhere.” It was also frequently described as Keith’s Uptown house, which may have inspired the later name switch from St. James to Uptown Theatre.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on April 11, 2012 at 7:56 am

You are right. It was the Symphony not the Uptown. Sorry for my confusion.

MarkB
MarkB on July 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I just added a photo.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

Prior to the opening of Chickering Hall on Huntington Avenue in 1901, there was an earlier, smaller Chickering Hall downtown. It was located, as of 1884, at 151 Tremont Street. I’m not sure if it was on the ground floor or upstairs. It had about 450 seats,with a balcony. Down at the right front, next to the stage, there was an exit out to Mason Street in back. An old seating chart says it was at 151 Tremont in the same building as the Chickering Piano sales showroom; but elsewhere on the chart it says “251 Tremont” which cannot be accurate if Mason Street was in back.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

Larcron is correct about there being a used bookshop near the Uptown and the Strand. It was located somewhere between Mechanics Hall and the Uptown on the same side of the street and was a funky old place where I bought old copies of Railroad Magazine and Trains Magazine from the 1940s for only 15 cents each. This was in the mid-and late-1950s. Stores like that gave Boston character, in contrast to the antiseptic, streamlined, expensive upscale $$$stores of today.

lcronkel
lcronkel on February 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I was very familiar with the area having been born on Hemingway Street. I was only 8 or 9 at the time, but I had a weekly ritual where I went to a used book store near the Uptown to buy used comic books. Then I would go across the street to the Uptown News to get the newest comics. Then it was steamed burgers at Joe & Nemo’s before I would go to meet my grandfather at Crusher Casey’s.
The Strand Theatre was nearby as well, and was considered a step down from the Uptown. Indeed there was a Brigham’s next to the Uptown. Eventually this was merged with a Fanny Farmers, probably one of the earlier attempts at co-branding. I remember the Walton’s nearby having an automat at one point. There was a Howard Johnson’s nearby, but it was furthet up Huntington near Wentworth Institute.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

In a 1918 Boston street directory, this theater, as the “St. James Theatre” is listed at 239 Huntington Avenue.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 28, 2011 at 5:10 am

This aerial photo includes a view from above of the Uptown Theatre, two buildings to the right of Symphony Hall on Huntington Avenue and on the close side of the Christian Science Center. You can make out the marquee as well as the scenery tower at the rear of the building.
View link
With some effort one can also make out Loew’s State on Massachusetts Avenue.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Or, more likely, he is confusing the Uptown with the Symphony Cinema, a twin which was a block further west on Huntington Ave. and on the opposite side of the street. The comments there make several references to I Am Curious (Yellow).

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I Am Curious (Yellow) made the rounds of the art-house circuit in the late 60s, so is a plausible film for the Uptown. It came out in 1967, so dickneeds may be misremembering the year rather than the theatre he saw it in.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

I think that when the St. James Th. was built, the auditorium for Chickering Hall may have been demolished for the new theater. Peabody and Stearns kept the original front building on Huntington Avenue and built the theater entrance and lobby in it. The external appearance of the auditorium and stage-house as seen from in back certainly looked to me at the time (circa-1960) like new construction and not an adaptation of the old Chickering Hall.
dickneeds- are you sure you’re thinking of the Uptown? It was gone by 1970-71, and was never twinned. Also, was never a true porno house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 7, 2011 at 5:22 am

I came across a collection of photos of Boston buildings designed by the architectural firm of Peabody & Stearns which includes Chickering Hall, so that firm designed the original building as well as its 1912 expansion into the St. James Theatre. (This page is large. Not recommended for dial-up connections.)

This PDF of a scan of an article from a 1901 issue of The Music Trade Review has two drawings of Chickering Hall. The text says that the original 800-seat auditorium was 55x80 feet, and the stage 19x37 feet, so the alterations to convert the hall into a theater with over 1600 seats must have been extensive.

dick
dick on January 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

HAVING been to the Uptown a few times when it became a PORNO house. I was there the afternoon in( I believe) 1970-71 when it was showing I Am Curious Yellow when it got raided by the police and CH7 was outside filming everyone coming out for the night news. I believe the Uptown was still a single venue at that time. When was it twinned and how did they do that.

kevingalvin
kevingalvin on February 10, 2009 at 7:10 am

Well, I finally found the matchbook cover: http://www.kevingalvin.name/hojocover.htm I don’t suspect this store was open very long as this is the only mention of it I’ve seen.

AlLarkin
AlLarkin on December 5, 2006 at 11:17 am

During 1959 &‘60 I remember a Brighams on Mass Ave. near the Loews State. Around the Uptown I recall Walton’s Cafeteria on the east side of Gainsboro St., Hayes-Bickford Cafeteria on the west side of Gainsboro, Waldorf Cafeteria, Ramona’s Restaurant and Joe & Nemos on Huntington Ave.

Chiefofservice
Chiefofservice on October 25, 2006 at 8:48 am

Ok, let’s put it this way. I know for a fact there was a Brighams to the left of the Uptown (facing the Uptown) because I worked at that theatre for 3 years in the late 40’s and many a time I would go next door for a milk shake or a frappe.As far as a Howard Johnson being there at that time, like I said in my previous post, I don’t think there was, not in that time frame anyway.

kevingalvin
kevingalvin on October 25, 2006 at 8:40 am

Thanks, but I knew of them. His first store was at Wollaston, second in Quincy Square. See the theater reference here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Johnson%27s I suspect that the enterprising Johnson open his next store in Boston to capitalize on that event and I’m trying to find where it was. Thanks for the input! I’m going to look for that match book right now…

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 25, 2006 at 8:28 am

cagey- Howard Johnson was a Quincy resident. His first HoJo’s was in Quincy, near the Wollaston Theatre in the 1920s; also another location in the Granite Trust Bldg (still standing) across from the Strand Theatre in Quincy center.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on October 25, 2006 at 8:22 am

Actually, Wollaston, heres a link to that picture View link

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on October 25, 2006 at 8:21 am

Here’s a link to the first store, View link and the page it’s from details the history of HoJos.

kevingalvin
kevingalvin on October 25, 2006 at 8:15 am

And actually this is part of a bigger puzzle I’m trying to solve in finding the first Howard Johnson restaurants [i know… that’s not what this site is about]. This has become an obsession…

kevingalvin
kevingalvin on October 25, 2006 at 8:12 am

I’m going to have to find it, but I’m pretty certain I have a Howard Johnson match book cover with this address. This would be long ago, probably the early 1930’s.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 25, 2006 at 7:19 am

I think that Jim L is correct— I have a very vague memory that there was a Brigham’s or a store very similar to Brigham’s near the Uptown entrance, perhaps to the left (west).

Chiefofservice
Chiefofservice on October 24, 2006 at 6:21 pm

No Howard Johnsons in my recollection but there was a Brighams right along side of the Uptown that sold ice cream, milkshakes, frappes, etc.

This was around the late 40’s, early 50’s.