State Theatre

617 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02111

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Showing 1 - 25 of 56 comments

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 14, 2017 at 12:55 pm

In the photo section there are 2 photos taken of the Park’s fancy facade in its early days as a “motion picture” theater. This facade was part of the building which preceeded the Crabtree Building – that’s why it doesn’t look at all like the facade in the later State Theatre photos. I once saw a photo of the Park entrance taken after it was built in 1879 and the entrance was through an old house-like structure something like the old Boston Globe Corner Bookstore at the northwest corner of Washington & School streets.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on June 14, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I added the Dirty Old Boston photo of the State II box sign across from the then Essex 1&2. If anyone creates a page for the State II or determines an address, I will post it there as well.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 14, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Yes, there was a State II adult cinema located in a storefront in the Crabtree Building and not part of the State Theatre itself, but probably under the same management.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 14, 2017 at 9:45 am

In the 1976 Dirty Old Boston photo, it looks like there was at least briefly a second screen called the “STATE II CINEMA”, in the same building as the State, but with its own separate sign and entrance, at the corner of Boylston and Washington. This matches my memory of the location.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 27, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Two 1965 photos as the State Theatre added, photos credit Boston City Censor.

adamghost
adamghost on August 27, 2015 at 4:01 am

Another photo:

https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/11898594_1110474998979960_3840942760175300174_n.jpg?oh=0175cdf8bddeb912253b54b44b46475f&oe=566DC376

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on June 19, 2015 at 11:49 pm

1954 photo as the Trans-Lux added courtesy of MIT Libraries.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 11, 2012 at 4:46 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!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 1, 2012 at 12:46 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.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on March 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

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.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 23, 2011 at 12:16 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.

alberwi
alberwi on April 23, 2011 at 8:33 am

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.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 11, 2010 at 7:51 pm

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 October 7, 2008 at 4:18 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.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 23, 2008 at 5:20 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 September 23, 2008 at 3:07 am

Cypress’s question is a valid one when asked in an ironic sense; after all, of the many theatres listed for Boston on this website, how many are still open? A paltry few, and some of those that are still operating are not really “movie theatres” anymore. Of the remainder, since by my (admittedly biased) standards, those horrible mini-box multiplexes scarcely qualify, that brings the total to about zero, at least for the City of Boston proper. So one might (sadly) ask, indeed, if there are any movie theaters in Boston.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 28, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Why are you asking this question instead of looking them up on this site?

Scholes188
Scholes188 on August 28, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Are there any movie theaters in Boston?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 5, 2008 at 8:55 am

On April 27, 1921 the Harvard Crimson reported:
“The famous ‘East Lynne’ appears in photoplay form as the leading feature at the Park Theatre this week. In action and plot it closely follows the well-known theme of heroine and villain with the result that a true melodramatic production appears on the screen. Eva Novak in ‘Society Secrets’ is the other feature.”

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 6, 2007 at 12:25 pm

The State is listed (as Park Th.) in the 1928 Film Daily Yearbook as being part of the Boas Circuit, run by L.M. Boas of 40 Court St. in Boston. The Boas circuit had 22 movie theatres in 1928, 5 of which were in Boston.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 9, 2006 at 10:40 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Trans Lux Theatre on Washington St. in Boston has an exterior photo taken in May 1941. The theatre had a very bright, garish rectangular marquee with 4 lines of black letters on a white background on its front and sides. Attractions were: John Wayne in “A Man Betrayed” and Pat O'Brien and Cesar Romero in “Public Enemy’s Wife”. There were large garish poster boards on each side of the entrance. The Report states that the Trans Lux is not showing MGM product; that it’s over 15 years old; is in Good condition; and has 390 orchestra seats and 309 balcony seats, total: 699 seats (that figure seems too low).

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 30, 2006 at 1:35 am

Here is a photo of the Park Theatre in 1909 while a movie was being shot in front of the theatre.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 26, 2006 at 9:47 am

As the Park Theatre, the State was listed in the 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide. The manage was Eugene Tompkins who also ran the Boston Theatre to the north. The seating capacity was given as 844, but that seems to be close to the figure for only the orchestra and the first balcony. The breakdown given is Orchestra: 591, Balcony: 249, Gallery: 600, total: 1,440, but the Gallery figure may include standees. Ticket prices ranged from 25 cents to $1.50. The proscenium opening was 38 feet wide x 32 feet high. The stage was 37 feet deep. The theatre was on the ground floor and there were 11 members of the orchestra.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 3, 2006 at 12:23 pm

According to a Boston Globe article about Chinatown cinemas, published on December 28, 1982, the State in the 1960s showed Chinese films on Friday nights, after the skin flicks were over.