Broadway Theater

420 Broadway,
South Boston, MA 02127

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Broadway Theater 1968. Photo courtesy of John Higgins via the Dirty Old Boston Facebook page.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1920, the Broadway Theater was designed by architects Clarence H. Blackall, Clapp and Whittemore. Following a fire, it was rebuilt to the designs of architect Clarence Kivett in 1938.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

MPol
MPol on August 30, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Out of curiosity, did South Boston’s Broadway Theatre ever show any of the great classics, such as West Side Story, Dr. Zhivago, etc? If so, how much of an audience did films such as these gain there? Again, just curious.

MrDJDude
MrDJDude on July 3, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Interesting. The actual address for this theater is 420 West Broadway Street. And if you put that into Google Maps, and click steet view…you get a shot of the back of the Broadway Theater, oddly enough. Apparently not only did the Google photography vehicle go down Athens Street(behind the theater), but the Street View defaults to that picture.

The sun interferes with most of the upper parts of the rear wall of the building, but lower dowh is clearly visible. A old door has been walled off, and just down the wall from that is what appears to be an old stage door(scenery door, maybe? I’m not really sure), closed by several plywood panels. I haven’t a clue what the inside of this building looks like…but I can’t imagine anything good.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I went to the Google Street View as per Phantom Screen’s experience above. Very interesting how it takes you around back to Athens Street. The stage house appears to be down at the left end of the building, with rows of little dressing room windows on the second, third, fourth floor; a scene loading door below on the street, and various plywooded exit doors. If you look at 424 Broadway, you can see the front, but you have to know what to look for. It probably is a mess inside; the plan was to renovate it and turn it into condos.

stevecimm
stevecimm on June 4, 2010 at 9:33 am

With all the beautiful restoration work on the Strand Theater in Uphams Corner, as well as the Paramount, Opera House, and soon Modern downtown, it wound be a pleasure to see the same with the Broadway. I wonder how a 1777 seat movie house can be left abandoned and in ruin. It would be nice to finally find out its future, if there is one.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

I also wonder what’s going on with this property. The Broadway has been closed up for a very long time now. But, stevecimm, don’t expect to see “beautiful restoration” work at the Modern Theatre downtown- it has been totally demolished except for its facade which is now being re-erected in front of the new building on site.

stevecimm
stevecimm on June 7, 2010 at 8:47 am

Thanks for the update on the Modern, Ron. I had a feeling something was amiss. At least we have the other three gems.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 29, 2011 at 11:37 am

There is an Olympia Theatre listed under “Theatres” in the Boston Register and Business Directory, Issue 83, 1918; and in the same directory, Issue 85, 1921. The address is 429 West Broadway. That would put it across the street from the Broadway Theatre. I don’t know anything about the Olympia.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 21, 2011 at 11:45 am

The Broadway Theatre is listed in the 1921 edition of the Boston Register and Business Directory, Issue 85, at 420 West Broadway in South Boston. Across the street at 429 W. B'way was the Olympia Theatre. A near intersection was with F Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Here is a brief article from the October 18, 1919, issue of the weekly journal The Music Trades:

“Boston Theatre Buys a Morton

“BOSTON, MASS., Oct. 14.

“George Lincoln Parker, the Boylston Street piano merchant and resident representative of the American Photoplayer Co., succeeded a few days ago in securing an important contract, after the keenest competition for an organ to be installed in the city’s latest, largest and most attractive moving picture house.

“The Robert Morton Symphonic organ, as constructed by the American Photoplayer Company, at its modernly appointed factory in Berkely, Cal., will grace the Powers Broadway Theatre, South Boston, on or about February 1, 1920. This picture playhouse is at present in process of construction and the same contractor who delivered Camp Devens in Ayer, Mass., to the government will spare neither time nor money to have the theatre complete on contract time.

“The Robert Morton Symphonic organ both in tone and construction will feature the interior’s furnishings where music lovers and theatre goers are promised a revelation when the organ is heard amidst the costliest and most artistic theatre appointments. The organ, when completed and installed, will be the best and most expensive instrument ever installed in the city’s long list of theaters.”

Photos and floor plans of the Broadway Theatre were published in the June 8, 1921, issue of The American Architect, which can be seen online here. Scroll down to see additional photos. They can be resized using the + and – signs in the toolbar at lower right, and individual pages of the size you’ve chosen can then be downloaded with the usual right click-save commands.

spectrum
spectrum on October 24, 2013 at 8:17 am

From the 2013 google aeriel and street vews, the condition looks pretty dire; the roof over the auditorium and stage is shot, must be leaking a lot. The new street views do not have the sunlight this time around. From the Athens side it looks like a number of windows along the auditorium sidewall. Was the space gutted and turned into office space at one point?

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