Pilgrim Theatre

658 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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Showing 1 - 25 of 108 comments

da_Bunnyman on March 6, 2018 at 8:36 pm

An article I will always regret not saving (might’ve been in the Real Paper or The Phoenix) involved someone venturing into the Pilgrim at it’s worst X-rated phase. A very Dante into Hell type adventure for the uninitiated (though the author seemed to know what they were getting in to.).

DavidZornig on May 31, 2017 at 6:13 am

Summer 1956 photo added courtesy of the Dirty Old Boston Facebook page. Pilgrim blade sign in the background.

DavidZornig on April 29, 2017 at 6:01 pm

1974 photo added credit Spencer Grant.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 26, 2017 at 9:01 am

The Olympia (Pilgrim) and Gayety have been demolished and replaced by residential buildings. The RKO Boston (at right, behind the Olympia) is sitting vacant. The Paramount (in far background, at the bend of Washington Street) was rebuilt and reopened by Emerson College.

Willburg145 on April 26, 2017 at 8:51 am

Are all the theatres in the picture gone?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on August 28, 2013 at 10:24 am

alberwi is correct: the opening day ad is for the Scollay Square Olympia, not this theater. Back when they were in operation, they were known as the “Washington Street Olympia” and the “Scollay Square Olympia”; later the “Pilgrim” and the “Scollay Square”. Although similar in size and both run by Nathan Gordon, they were not identical twins. The Scollay Square Theatre closed long before the Pilgrim.

alberwi on August 28, 2013 at 7:22 am

rivest266: That ad is for the Olympia Theatre in Scollay Square, not the Olympia on Washington Street that later became known as the Pilgrim.

rivest266 on May 12, 2013 at 6:15 am

Grand opening ad from November 16th, 1913 has been uploaded here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 1, 2011 at 3:54 am

The January 15, 1913, issue of The American Architect had a brief article titled “Escalators for Theaters” which was illustrated by a photo of the escalator in Gordon’s Olympia Theatre. Google Books scan here.

William on August 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

The zip code needs to change to 02201.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm

This theatre is currently mapped on the wrong Washington Street (Brighton, instead of downtown Boston), miles from where it belongs.

EdwardFindlay on April 8, 2011 at 11:23 am

Link to the Historic Boston, Inc. blog post: View link

EdwardFindlay on April 8, 2011 at 9:30 am

Historic Boston Inc. found inside the historic Hayden Building several of the last film reels from when the Pilgrim, but the gem posted in their blog they posted is this scan of the original edifice of the theatre: View link

Sharp look compared with the later theatres that were built farther up the street that were intended to stand out more…

dick on November 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I Remamber going to see The Tingler at the Pilgrim. It was thwe only theatre in downturn willing to wire sonme seats for shock. What fun. The Pilgrim was also home to a lot of the first B&W 50’s two bit Alan Freed Rock movies. She was a grand OLD PALACE in the 40’s & 50’s. Its a shame that it was torn down instead of saved and refurbished.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 22, 2010 at 8:17 pm

That 1980 photo posted on April 7, 2009 brought back some memories!

iamcontent on February 19, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I use to go to the Pilgrim from 1982 as a teen till it closed. Have a lot of fun memories in there. Really liked people watching me with couples

JonMontgomery on January 6, 2010 at 11:42 pm

I remember going to the Pilgrim in the 1970’s to see Chesty Morgan perform live. So crowded that me and a friend (in our late 20’s at the time) had to go up to the balcony! Had to use the mens room way down in the basement on the way out. Biggest mens room I’d ever seen but man, it was GROSS and dirty and dimly lit. It stank so bad of urine that you practically had to hold your nose. The whole theater smelled a bit musty too. Only time in there but remember it well.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 22, 2009 at 11:35 am

George F. Will, the noted opinion piece writer at the Washington Post, has a piece “COLA’s Just Keep on Coming” in today’s Boston Herald. He writes that the automatic cost-of-living increase for Social Security recepients was originated by Rep. Wilbur Mills, Democrat of Arkansas, as a means to buy elderly votes when he was seeking the Democrat’s 1972 party nomination for President. Three years later, writes Will, Mills “had his fling with a stripper named Fanne Foxe, aka ‘The Argentine Firecracker’. (Mills joined her on stage at Boston’s exquisitely named Pilgrim Theatre, which specialized in what Time Magazine primly called ‘ecdysiast exhibitions’.)”

doyle on July 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Does anyone remember the wallpaper in the lobby? For some odd reason I remember it vividly – at least as vividly as the lighting allowed.
It was a lurid green/silver Art Deco design, obviously a relic of modernization long, long ago.
And yes, I also remember that famous wooden escalator that never worked.
I can’t say I miss the place too much; it literally stank. You could smell the lobby as you approached, like a vast rotten mouth exhaling halitosis at you.

And what about that horror toilet in the cellar…?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 10, 2008 at 4:05 am

The Pilgrim didn’t become a Chinese restaurant. The nearby Center did, and remains one today.

michaelwo on December 10, 2008 at 4:02 am

i used to go the the pilgrim in the 80ies, i was in my late teens and twenties then, what great memories i have, i miss the big screen xxx theaters. i also remember the art cinema in tremont , and the pussycat theater in the west end , and didnt the place become a chinese restaurant for a short time ,

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 22, 2008 at 11:07 am

The most notorious incident involving Fanne Foxe at the Pilgrim happened at a Saturday evening performance when she enticed her admirer, Congressman Wilbur Mills, to come up onto the stage and dance with her. He was a short, late-middle-age, dorky-looking doofus in a business suit who had had too much to drink. During their performance, he somehow managed to stumble off the apron of the stage into the orchestra pit. This caused a scandal back in his home state of Arkansas. I have a vague memory that he and Ms. Foxe also waded together one night in a decorative fountain somewhere in downtown Washington. Fanne Foxe’s dressing room backstage at the Pilgrim where Bill O'Reilly interviewed her was probably located down in the basement.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 22, 2008 at 8:28 am

In his recent memoir A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity, Bill O'Reilly wrote of his student days in Boston at B.U. and contributing articles to several weekly papers. One of his breaks came when he wrote a piece for Free Press on the noted stripper Fanne Foxe. O'Reilly had interviewed her backstage at the Pilgrim Theatre. He wrote:

“On a cool November night, I ventured into Boston’s notorious Combat Zone, a vice-ridden area just north of Boston Common. There, I met Ms. Bombshell backstage at the Pilgrim Theatre, where she was preparing to take off her clothes for three thousand dollars, a hefty one-night sum in 1974.

“The woman was very nice to me and my photographer, Conn O'Neill, two young Irish guys just trying to get through school. In fact, the Foxette actually changed into her costume right before our eyes, displaying an admirable female form. Am I getting paid for this? I thought. The answer was no. But it was okay.”

At this point, on page 114 of the book, O'Reilly quotes what he had written in the article about Ms. Foxe, about Fanne sauntering about the Pilgrim stage and throwing candy to the patrons. The published article was met with some praise, including from film critic Rex Reed. In later years O'Reilly told Reed that he had been directly responsible for his entering the field of mass communications. Reed’s reply was to laugh and say he would pay him not to make that public.