Broadway Theater

420 Broadway,
South Boston, MA 02127

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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?

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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 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.

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.

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.

IrishHermit
IrishHermit on February 6, 2006 at 11:58 am

More information about the owner of the Broadway Theater can be found at this Boston Herald article: http://tinyurl.com/9wxr3 Here is a recent picture of the front of the building: http://tinyurl.com/86r7n The red placard with the white X tells the fire department not to enter the building unless there are people know to be inside. This photo: http://tinyurl.com/7q4t5 shows the footprint of the building.

In the fifties the front doors were set back about twenty feet from the street. There were two sets of double doors. Before them there was a ticket vendors booth on the right hand side. Both the right and left front of the building had display cases for movie posters. The left hand side of the entry way had at three or four additional display cases for up coming films. Once you entered through the right hand doors there was a concession stand on the left. After that there was another set of doors that led to the theater. If you look at the footprint picture, the screen was on the right hand side of the building (lower right or south east side).

At some point in the early seventies the main theater was split for two screens.

On Saturday afternoons in the fifties the usual fare was five cartoons, two or three Three Stooges shorts and full length film. All for twenty-five cents. During the rest of the week it showed regular Hollywood films on their second run.

Sometime before 1960 I remember a big hubbub about some “dirty” movie that was going to shown at the Broadway. It may have been one of Kroger Babb’s exploitation films.

IrishHermit
IrishHermit on February 5, 2006 at 6:12 pm

The City of Boston assessment data lists On Broadway Corporation as the owner. On Broadway’s principal address is 314 West Second St., South Boston, MA 02127. More info at: http://tinyurl.com/c25kw

The last movies I saw there were “Animal House” and “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”. I don’t remember it being open after 1980.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 15, 2006 at 8:18 am

The Broadway was still open when I used to go to South Boston fairly frequently in the 1960s. I never went into it, but did see later a beautiful photo of the interior taken when it was new. I know that it was indeed called “The Bug House” by local kids in its later years. Someone told me that after it closed, there was some sort of live attraction there some time in the mid- or late-1980s. I also understand that in the 1990s, it was to have been converted into condos. I have the MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Broadway, with a photo taken in April 1941. The rectangular marquee had a big “Broadway” on its front with 2 lines of black letters on white background. Movies playing were “Hudson’s Bay” and “The Mad Doctor”. The Report states that the Broadway had been presenting MGM product for over 15 years, that the condition was Good, and that it had 1067 seats on the main floor and 676 in the balcony, total 1743. The competing theatres in Southie in 1941 were the Strand at 710 Broadway, and the Imperial on I Street. The latter, which had almost 500 seats, may have been an “upstairs” house.

mb848
mb848 on January 8, 2006 at 2:54 pm

I drove by this theater today and it looks like it is open to the elements. If the second floor had been boarded up at one time, it no longer is. The empty window openings around the theater are quite prominent. The front entrance is bricked and boarded up, however. Above the front entrance are the intertwined letters “S,B and T” in stonework, which I assume stands for the original name of South Boston Theatre. I agree with Ian that this place must be a mess inside….this building is not secure.

IanJudge
IanJudge on May 5, 2005 at 8:26 pm

This theater is still there; currently vacant. As John says above, the facade and marquee are noticable removed at street level, while the second floor is boarded up. I’d imagine it is quite a mess if it has been closed for 20+ years.

jb3
jb3 on March 26, 2005 at 7:59 pm

this brings back child hood memories i used to go there in the 60’s & 70’s i hated sticking to floor. on st pats day we got in free. sat outside the place on st pats day 05 the marque was torn down i think for safety haz this was owned by betty buckley she lived on morrisey blvd in dorchester it had a nickname the bug house john from southie

br91975
br91975 on October 31, 2004 at 8:00 pm

When I was growing up in Boston, my family and I used to go to City Point Beach in the summer and we’d regularly pass by the Broadway which, to my knowledge, closed its doors sometime around 1982. I recall it having a flat marquee, with ‘Broadway Theater’ in white lettering against an orange background and the steel grate covering the entrance decorated with painted images of classic movie scenes and performers; what’s become of the property since or the state it’s in now I’d be curious to find out…