Pi Alley 1-2

12 Pi Alley,
Boston, MA 02108

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Showing 1 - 25 of 58 comments

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 23, 2016 at 11:02 am

The building which contained the Pi Alley cinema is to be demolished at some future date so that the parcel can be “redeveloped”. I learned this from the business news in the Boston Herald.

Kerry_Maxwell on September 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm

In the mid 80’s, the Pi Alley was where my wife and I went to see Nightmare on Elm St. and The Evil Dead II. Good times.

danpetitpas on August 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm

I too saw Tommy in Quintaphonic Sound at the Pi Alley in two consecutive showings. Those days, they didn’t kick you out between shows.

It’s funny almost all of the theaters Sack Theaters developed were built into parking garages. Seems to have been a lot of garages built in Boston as part of the 1960s urban renewal projects. The Cheri was a stand-alone garage. The 57 was in the garage part of the 57 Hotel. The Beacon Hill was butted up against the One Beacon Street underground garage. The Pi Alley was in the Pi Alley garage. I think the only Sack Theater not in a garage was the Copley. The other theaters Sack bought from other companies.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 31, 2008 at 7:20 am

Correction to the above posting: “ you can see daylight at the West end of Pi Alley.”

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 3, 2007 at 10:39 am

For those unfamiliar with this cinema: in the very nice color photo posted above by Howard Haas, the original poster cases can be seen on the right and left just inside the opening under the marquee. The cinema was just a short distance up the alley, on the left side. In the distance you can see daylight at the east end of Pi Alley.

HowardBHaas on July 22, 2007 at 12:49 pm

I recall seeing movies here. Exterior in more recent photo:
View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 17, 2006 at 8:07 am

I never went into the Pi Alley, but from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s I walked thru Pi Alley almost every weekday morning around 815AM and the fire exit doors were sometimes open while cleaning was underway. The doors were on the south side of the alley about half way in.The auditorium (I only saw one) was the epitome of “plain”.

Tom10 on June 26, 2005 at 2:49 pm

Eric… <<King’s book also states that the Pi Alley was twinned “soon” after opening in 1969.>> Hmmm, well, if his theater history begins around 1620 (venues for Pilgrim morality plays), I suppose, to the author, the nine year span to 1978 could be considered “soon.”

ErikH on June 26, 2005 at 2:19 am

King’s book also states that the Pi Alley was twinned “soon” after opening in 1969. The theater was subdivided in 1978.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 19, 2005 at 5:15 pm

According to Donald C. King’s new book The Theatres of Boston: A Stage and Screen History, the Pi Alley opened on December 17, 1969.

Tom10 on May 12, 2005 at 9:02 pm

The Art was an Art Deco style building on the site of what is now an office building at the northwest corner of Hancock and Granite next to the cemetery which is also next to the old city hall. The current Flagship Cinema site used to be a Sears and Roebuck. When I was a kid, I remember seeing a faded sign for a theater on the wall of building near Sears. It gave the prices of the evening and matinee performances and it may have made reference to vaudville. I think my father said that they’d built Sears in what had been a theater building. Tom

mb848 on May 10, 2005 at 8:46 pm

The following is a link to an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger that describes the play “Strange Interlude”, which played in Quincy because it was banned in Boston. This was at the “Quincy Theatre” on Hancock Street, which was on the current site of the Flagship Cinemas. The article mentions that the theater closed in 1952 and the building was torn down in 1959. This may have also been called the “Capitol” at one point. This was the vaudeville house. The Regent Theatre was in North Quincy, a few miles north on Hancock Street. Here is the link: View link
I’ve been meaning to add this theater; the Strand, Regent, and Alhambra (Art??) have been added to this site recently.

Tom10 on February 16, 2005 at 9:08 am

BoxOfficeBill: Thanks for the background on the theaters. I was a teenager in the sixties and vaguely remember seeing one of the last of the beach blanket films at the Art and possibly Hercules. Kids matinees at the Strand were awful. They threw stuff at the screen; if kids did that today, they’d call the police. It was like a riot on simmer. It’s possible the Regent was that vaudville house. I recall the QuinTree, but never went there.

Tom10 on February 16, 2005 at 9:01 am

Ron: The Quincy Fair building is the site of the old Sears which was the site of that vaudeville house. When I can, I’ll do the research at the Quincy Historical Society on this and the other theaters. The auditoriums are small—not competitive with the newer ‘plexes. I just never cared for the place.

BoxOfficeBill on February 16, 2005 at 6:30 am

Tom N— see my serial postings for the Wollaston Theater last 30 Dec-2 Jan. As a kid who visited Quincy in ‘49-'50, I remeber hose theaters, and respondants have filled in the gaps in my memory. The Art on Hancock showed 20C-Fox films and was wonderfully art deco; the Strand on Coddington showed Warners product and was Palladian. I recall yet another, the Regent on (I think) Washington, which showed MGM and Columbia films and had a modified Beaux Arts style. I’m straining to recall a Publix-like theater that showed Paramount films. Finally, on the town line between Quincy and Braintree was the Quintree Drive-In. If the Quincy library has back issues of the local newspapers, you can start there.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 16, 2005 at 5:47 am

Quincy now has the eight-screen Flagship Cinemas, in the ‘Quincy Fair’ building at 1585 Hancock Street. This was built as an Entertainment Cinema, then became a Showcase Cinema, then closed and was reopened by Flagship. I haven’t been there yet, but they can’t be doing very well — they never advertise in the Globe, and they just changed to a policy of $2.50 admission at all times.

Is this the same location as any of the Quincy theatres you mentioned?

Tom10 on February 16, 2005 at 5:34 am

Ron: When I get a chance to do the research, I have three theaters I want to add to this site: the Braintree Theater in that town, a single screen local that got converted to offices in the early sixties; the Strand Theater in Quincy which closed, possibly around 1980 and was demolished maybe ten years later; and the Art theater, also in Quincy which was demolished for an office building in the seventies, I think. IIRC, the Art was somewhat Art Deco in style and the nicest of these three architecturally. Quincy may have had at least one other theater because I recall the Sears store had been a vaudeville house, and they often got converted to movies.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 15, 2005 at 12:15 pm

I’d wait a day or so before contacting the site masters.

cinemaboy on February 15, 2005 at 12:04 pm

Hi Ron, I submitted a listing for the Academy Cinemas, Newton Center, MA, last night, but its not showing up. Is there lag time? If not, I’ll try again soon.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 14, 2005 at 12:08 pm

The Academy is not currently listed on this site. Please add it and give us whatever information you know.

cinemaboy on February 14, 2005 at 12:00 pm

Thanks Ron! I worked at the Academy in Newton as a teenager. Great space and a good selection of movies that were more art-house than mainstream, for the most part. Anyone have any more info on Cate Enterprises, esp. current whereabouts?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 14, 2005 at 11:52 am

The Cinema 57 (which has its own page here) had two screens when it closed. It never had more than two. One is now the live-stage Stuart Street Playhouse, the other is a golf school.

Sonny and Eddy’s Theatres, which I think also had the name ‘Fall River Theatres’ at one point, was a small art-house chain which at its high point ran the Allston Cinemas, Central Square Cinemas in Cambridge, Galeria Cinema in Cambridge (later renamed Janus Cinema under different ownership), Exeter Street Theatre in Boston, and Academy Twin Cinemas in Newton Centre. None of these are still open.

Cate Enterprises at one point owned the Orson Welles Cinema in Cambridge.

br91975 on February 14, 2005 at 11:37 am

The 57 never had more than two screens.

br91975 on February 14, 2005 at 11:36 am

The 57, I suspect, was built as a twin – the two auditoriums faced in opposite directions, divided cleanly in the middle by the lobby, with one auditorium facing left and the other facing right. As it was, if the 57 was twinned after opening, it was a non-traditional twinning, with the original auditorium not being divided; Federman’s involvement, thus, would have either been in the creation of a second auditorium or in the initial design of the entire space.