State Theatre

617 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02111

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Map of Trans-Lux theatre, 1938

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1879 as the Park Theatre. It was across Washington Street from the RKO Boston (Cinerama).

Always an adult house since I remember it from 1960. It was around the corner from the Avery Hotel and I believe there was an underground tunnel to the hotel for performers way back when it was a live house.

Contributed by Richard Dziadzio

Recent comments (view all 50 comments)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 23, 2008 at 11:20 am

It’s true that there are only two movie theatres remaining in Boston — Regal Fenway 13 and Loews Boston Common (which was built partly on the former site of the State).

But I would not describe these two, with stadium seating and large screens, as “mini-box multiplexes”. That label would better describe the late and mostly unlamented Copley Place Cinemas.

Boston does still have a number of former movie theatres now used for live performances: the Orpheum, Opera House (originally Keith Memorial, later Savoy), Majestic (formerly Saxon), Wang (originally Metropolitan, then Music Hall), Stuart Street Playhouse (originally Cinema 57), Berklee Performance Center (originally Fenway), Boston University Theatre (originally Repertory Theatre of Boston, later Esquire), C. Walsh Theatre (originally Suffolk). and the Strand Theatre in Dorchester.

alberwi
alberwi on October 7, 2008 at 10:18 am

I guess you are right, technically…I admit I ’ve never been in either the Fenway 13 or or the Loew’s Common. And since I no longer live in the Boston area, I probably never will…no great loss. But for me, the real “movie theatres” were the classic ones of old, with a huge single screen, balconies etc. I remember going to see “Grand Prix” at the Cinerama aka RKO Boston, circa 1967…now, THAT was a theatre! Ditto the late lamented Publix, even in its decrepit last years. Ah, memories. Well, at least a few of the grand old houses survive in the suburbs, but as for Boston proper…it may still have places where you can watch a movie, but no movie theatres, if you get my distinction.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 12, 2010 at 1:51 am

There is a small 1939 photo of the auditorium of this theatre, when it was the Trans-Lux, in Boxoffice Magazine, February 11, 1939. Here is a link to that issue. For the photo, go to the ad on page 68:
http://issuu.com/boxoffice/docs/boxoffice_021139

alberwi
alberwi on April 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm

According to various comments above, this theatre started showing adult films in 1960, and a comment dated 11/04/2004 by Gerald gives the titles of two films showing there in 1962. Just out of curiosity, I looked up “Naked Island” and “The Facts of Love” on IMDB, and neither appears to be anything resembling an “adult” film; the former is some kind of Japanese art film and the latter is a comedy dating back to 1945! This would seem to contradict the characterization of the place as an adult house…unless of course those titles just belonged to obscure x-rated junk that doesn’t get featured on IMDB.

[Some time later…] Ah, this explains it (an excerpt from a listing on a movie poster website, emovieposter.com):

“Film Description: Naked Island, the circa 1960s William Mishkin nudist colony sexploitation movie ("Bold! Daring!”; “All new”; “Today’s Garden of Eden…Vacation paradise for hundreds of Adams and Eves!”; “The land of 1001 nudes”; “Revealing! Unashamed! Uninhibited!”; “Scenes in blushing color”)."

An interesting poster (must have been considered quite salacious in its day):

View link

Additional research has failed to discover any adult version of the other movie, so perhaps that one was the 1945 film which was just shown as a filler, or else some totally obscure schlock flick…and it would have to be obscure indeed, not to appear on the internet somewhere.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm

JustPlainBill- The very first time I went into the TransLux, circa 1960, just to see the interior, there was a b&w movie playing which was about a girls volleyball team which played its games and its practise sessions naked. It wasn’t a xxx porno film. The poster you linked to is very typical of the posters for this type of movie at that time.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on March 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm

The State(Translux) was showing aduly material in the late 50’s. Most of the material were films shown at Nudist Camps. This was the beginning of so called Porn. I remember walking and looking at the promo pics with black lines across many nude bodies and saying I can’t go in there because I was young and if my miother had found out I probably wouldn’t be here today.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on September 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm

1939 photos of State auditorium’s trasformation into Trans-Lux newsreeler. I suspect that “standard” projection was used, instead of Trans-Lux’s patented “rear screen” system. Boxoffice

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm

The pair of 1939 photos from Boxoffice trade paper illustrate why the Boston Landmarks Commission around 1985 did not consider this theater for inclusion, despite its great age. They felt that the theater interior had been ruined by renovations, and these photos prove their point.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

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