State Theatre

617 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02111

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Showing 1 - 25 of 49 comments

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 11, 2012 at 2:46 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 10:46 am

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 9:59 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 10:16 am

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 6:33 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 5:51 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 2:18 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 3:20 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 1:07 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 2:41 pm

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

Scholes188
Scholes188 on August 28, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Are there any movie theaters in Boston?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 5, 2008 at 6:55 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 10:25 am

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 8:40 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 29, 2006 at 11:35 pm

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 7:47 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 10:23 am

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.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 20, 2006 at 10:09 am

Today’s Boston Sunday Globe has an article about former movie theatres of Chinatown, and an outdoor film festival that will be held there next month. It says, of this theatre:

“As a youth, [Jeffrey] Wong [now 62] would sneak in and hide in the balcony of the State Cinema on Washington Street, hoping to catch some of the skin flicks before the lights came up and the bums were pushed out and he joined his friends and relatives and neighbors, who then filled the theater , eager for that week’s offering from Shanghai or Taiwan.

Not all the films had the highest production values: The fights were obviously staged, which made them even more entertaining for some."

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 26, 2006 at 7:37 am

These maps are great fun to study. Actually, Bumpstead Court was not a dead-end (note the little arches on the pink square directly behind the Park Theatre’s stage (north end). You could walk underneath this structure which contained the Park’s dressing rooms. I have a very vague memory that this structure was still there circa 1948 or so. Also note the Hotel Brewster just to the south of the Park’s stage. This is where Lotta Crabtree lived at one time and there was supposedly a passageway from the hotel basement to the Park’s basement. The Park’s scene loading door was in the little jog on the south side of the stage (stage-right). I used to patronize the ground floor coffee shop of the Hotel Brewster occasionally. There was a gas explosion there sometime in the early 1960s which resulted in the demolition of the hotel. Note that on the maps you can see that Boylston St. did not line up with Essex St. After the hotel demolition, a new entrance was built for the Orange Line on the property, then the entire street was swung over to the north to line up with Essex. This was when they built the little park on the south side of the intersection.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2006 at 1:25 am

This 1928 map shows at least 11 downtown Boston theatres. West is at the top of this map.

To find the PARK THEATRE on this map, go to the corner of Washington and Boylston Streets. Go west on Boylston, then north on Bumstead Court, a small dead-end alley. You’ll see the theatre labelled on the right side of Bumstead Court, just before this alley turns to the left.

This map, too, identifies the owner as Lotta M. Crabtree. In fact, it looks like she owned several adjoining buildings as well.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 22, 2006 at 3:06 am

This 1895 map shows part of downtown Boston. The Park Theatre is visible near the top left corner, in the block bounded by Tremont, Boylston, Washington, and Avery streets. (If you’re having trouble finding it, look just below the end of Haymarket Place.) The map identifies it as the property of Lotta M. Crabtree.

IrishHermit
IrishHermit on February 6, 2006 at 5:16 pm

In the early sixties the State played a lot of “nudist camp” movies: pretty girls playing volley ball in the “all together”. Someone had the job of drawing bikinis on the girls in the 8"x10" glossies that were posted outside.

I did get a chance to sneak inside once (underage) to see Bridget Bardot in And God Created Woman.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 22, 2006 at 9:00 am

A couple of strip clubs remain on La Grange Street — the Glass Slipper and Centerfolds. These, and a couple of lingering adult bookstores, are all that remains of the Combat Zone.

sinclair
sinclair on January 22, 2006 at 8:52 am

Too bad for the whole Combat Zone – it always made a walk through to Chinatown all that much more alluring to my teen mind, if that was “allure” and not something more prurient. Saw my first xxx rated penetration film in this locale – as hookers walked the aisles and god-know-what went on in the balcony.
What ever became of all the strip and burly clubs and whatnot around the area? I would really like to get my hands on the 8x10 glossies of the lovelies that worked these clubs that were posted in columns at the front door areas beckoning. This would make for one great coffee table book. Anyone know of the photographers that plied their trades there?