Old South Theatre

299 Washington Street,
Boston, MA

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All the old city directories listed this theatre at 299 Washington Street. This address works out to the corner of School Street where there is now a Borders book store.

Contributed by Richard Dziadzio

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 1, 2007 at 10:25 am

On my copy of the 1941 MGM Report for the Old South Theatre, the late theatre historian Don King wrote “ (I) went here once— weird layout.” I don’t know what he meant by that; I should have asked him to explain, but didn’t.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 8, 2007 at 11:00 am

The first Old South Theatre appears on this postcard which was mailed in 1914.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 8, 2007 at 12:39 pm

In the postcard, the theatre appears to be directly across Washington St. from the Old South Meeting House (still standing). I have never seen an exterior view of the first Old South Theatre before.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 28, 2008 at 12:16 pm

The first Old South Theatre had an ad in the Boston Globe during Christmas week of 1921. It was headed “Gordon’s Old South” and it was presenting William Fox’s film “Over the Hill” in its second week at popular prices. Admission from 10AM to Noon was 25 cents; from Noon to 5PM was 40 cents; and from 5PM to closing was 40 cents, with a few seats at 50 cents. The theater was part of Nathan Gordon’s theater circuit.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

In a 1918 street directory, the first Old South Theatre is listed at 329 Washington St. The first number to the south of School Street on that side of Washington Street (west side) is 289.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

In his autobiography, the comedian Fred Allen states that he played in vaudeville at the Old South Theatre for a full week in May, 1914. He was struggling to establish himself as a Vaude performer, and he says that getting booked into the Old South was key to getting better bookings later. I never realized that the Old South offered anything but movies. But the early chapters of his book mention his stage engagements at other Boston-area theaters which I always thought were film houses only.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm

What other Boston theatres does he say he performed at?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

He began performing, as a comedy juggler, “The World’s Worst Juggler”, at Amateur Nights when he was in his late-teens. This was in 1912-1914. He played the Superb/Plaza in Roxbury, the Roxbury Theatre, the National, the Scenic Temple in East Boston and the one in the South End; The Dreamland/Cobb; the Dreamland in Beverly, the Princess in Wakefield; Hamilton Hall and Winthrop Hall in Dorchester, Imperial in South Boston; Dream theaters in Winthrop and in Revere; the Star/Rialto in Scollay Sq.; the Hub Theatre. Very late in 1914/early 1915 he played the St. James/Uptown, and the Loew’s Orpheum by which time he was an established performer. I should point out that when he played the Old South, it was the first Old South, not the second one.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Where was the Hub Theatre? (The State Theatre had this name for a while, but not in 1912-14.)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

We talked about the Hub Theatre a couple years ago on the Wang Theatre’s page. It was located on Washington Street at Dover Street just north of the Grand Opera House in the South End.

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