Medford Square 1-2-3

34 Salem Street,
Medford, MA

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scottm
scottm on December 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

I have been there once many years ago, around 1977-78. They had two small screens up stair and one screen on first floor. Last time I watched the movie “Little Bear in breaking train”(in Cinema 3) while my dad watched “A bridge too far” in cinema 2. It is gone now.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 29, 2011 at 10:53 am

In the Street View photo above, the Medford Theatre’s marquee and lobby entrance were in the center of the building facade. As of 1941 at least, there apparently also was a verticle sign above the marquee.

hallyberry
hallyberry on February 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I too worked at the Medford Cinema when I was a kid many years ago. I was sitting here with Uncle Frank (who is doing great and will be turning 88 in July) googling the Medford Cinema for him to see what came up and found your posts…Hi Deb!!! I did not know about Bob and am very sorry to hear that he passed away…I use to have the best times with Bob up in the booth looking at all his masks and stuff he use to make…Whatever happened to those masks? Uncle Frank said you both did a great job with your stories….Please keep posting as we really enjoy reminiscing…..

Dinman
Dinman on June 25, 2009 at 7:14 am

Steve, I’m trying to remember you, how long ago was this? That’s funny though my Grampa was always afraid of bats indeed lol, and we had many occassion when a bat would make it’s way inside since they all came from the steeple of the church that was next door. I’m sorry to hear of Bob’s passing, I had no idea. Frank as far as I know is still with us my mom saw him and his wife Norma a couple of years ago at the Meadow Glen Mall. I would certainly love to share more memories and stories please do post either here or email me at

lamostad
lamostad on June 22, 2009 at 5:17 pm

To answer Debbie the Candy Girl. I remember you as a young one at the theater as well as your Mom Nancy and I think a Paul. “Bob” had told me of your grandfathers passing shortly after it happened. Sad to report that my grandfather, “Bob” the projectionist passed away on June 8th, 2002 due to a stroke caused by diabetes. After Medford closed he spent his time helping my uncle with his water bed business and worked part time over at the X rated theater in Chelsea. “Dirty Old Man”. Moved up to Leominster, MA in 1998 and remained his old crazy self until he went into a coma 4 days after the stroke. He loved the Medford Cinema and was heart broken when Frank decided to close up shop. Has Frank Andre left us as well, I do recall they were all around the same age. I too have great memories of John. He always had me running across the street to Papa Ginos for coffee, or that little market also across the street for ham & cheese after the Saturday matinee AND even the cleaners to pick up his short-sleeved white shirts. ALWAYS wore those. He was also afraid of bats. I remember I had just finished cleaning Cinema 2 and he yelled up to me to get to the lobby fast. He closed the Cinema 1 and candy counter doors then ran in the office and waited until I shooed the bat out the front doors. Will share more stories if anyone wishes to read them. Steve.

Dinman
Dinman on May 6, 2009 at 6:17 am

Oh! I also wanted to add that in the photo there was a Karate place in the storefront to the right of the Cinema Entrance, but for the longest time that spot was the home on “Heritage Florist”. And Murray Shoes was always there as long as I can remember anyway, I got my prom shoes there every year lol.

Dinman
Dinman on May 6, 2009 at 6:14 am

Thanks so much for posting that photo, that black car in the picture parked in front was my grandfather’s car! The tears just started the moment I saw it, thanks again, oh and btw I talked to my mom yesterday after discovering this site. Just FYI the auditorium area of Cinema One was not demolished not on purpose anyway, seems that the contractor at the time hit a main beam in the structure and it actually caved in! Rather than repair or rebuild, they demolished the rest of it and finished it off that way and made way for parking.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 5, 2009 at 11:04 am

ken mc’s 1983 photo is definitely the same theater as the April 1941 photo on the MGM Report. In 1941, the store to the left of the theater entrance was a drug store, and to the right was the Bryan Music Co. And to Debbie the Candy Girl, nice to read your memories!

Dinman
Dinman on May 5, 2009 at 7:53 am

My name is Debbie, and I truly wish I found this site earlier! I can tell you just about anything you want to know about the “Medford Cinema” cause I grew up there, my grandfather John Stivers managed, operated, and ran the place for 43 years! My mom and I worked there too. I have been a part of the Cinema and it a part of me since I was an embryo until the day it closed in 1984!! I still have old photos of me in the lobby and at the “Ticket Box” with my Grampa. I too remember Bob the projectionist and often wonder how he is, my Grampa John sadly passed away in 1995. Wow! what memories come flowing back lol, I still remeber too when I was a real little girl during the day when no movies were playing, being in there and putting on a show on the stage of Cinema One for my grandfather, my mother, and the owner Frank to the musical numbers from “Funny Girl” lol. I have since gotten married and moved an hour’s drive away south of Boston, but still once in a while go to Medford to visit friends and it breaks my heart to drive by what was once such a huge part of my life, it’s where I grew up, and now it’s like that part of my childhood no longer exhists but the memories. I would love to chat with others about the Cinema, as I can still remember every nook and cranny of that old building. Yes dark and dank as it seemed to others, it was deffinately a bright spot to me.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 13, 2008 at 12:07 pm

The July-Aug. 2008 issue of Rollsign Magazine (Boston Street Railway Assoc.) has a couple of Medford theater items. There is an old photo and an old colored postcard, both undated but appear to be circa-1900. There was an Opera House in Medford Center. It was located one building to the right of the Medford City Hall, which was at that time a building with a classical columned facade. The Opera House was 5 stories high and was a big brick Victorian heap. The other photo shows an open trolley on Playstead Road in West Medford. Looks like circa-1900. On the front of the car is a poster for the Boulevard Theatre in Medford. This means that around 1900 there were at least two theaters in Medford, the Opera House and the Boulevard.

lamostad
lamostad on May 26, 2008 at 5:32 pm

My grandfather was the projectionist there for many years I believe from the early late 60’s early 70’s until it closed in the 80’s. I also worked there for several years as usher and assistant projectionist. In regards to the first comment on the layout of teh interior. Once you entered the glass doors in front large florr to ceiling mirrors were on both the right and left sides about 12 feet in. The small box office was located on the right with a pedestal style white ticket box in the center. To the left of the ticket box was the snmall storage room for mops, buckets, ushers jackets & flashlights. The water fountain as well as the entrance to the long narrow box office was also located here. The pay phone also located there could not be used when someone called in to hear the list of movies playing. Why I never knew. Anyway, just passed the ticket box on the left was the concession stand, Soda fountain on the far left, then the glass candy display and to the right was a small freezer for that disturbing “ice cream” that when melted could be picked up off the floor like cooled melted wax. Yes, many nights cleaning the theater as well. The popcorn machine (which only heated the popcorn) was behind the candy display on a built in counter top area with storage underneath. The candy storage room was located to the right of the freezer. Additional ice cream was stored in a bigger freezer located beneath the stage of Cinema 1. Back to the tour: About 20 feet away from the ticket box was the entrance to Cinema 1 mostly done in a dark baby powder blue with gray floors. The two theater boxes on either side of the stage were not used to view movies but we did use the left one for the recreation of the Lincoln assination during the run of Sun Films “The Lincoln Conspiracy”. My grandfather also constructed that. Back to the lobby, taking a right at the ticket box walk up the steps, (about 25) to the left and 3 more steps up was the glass doors leading to Cinema 2. View a few ½ wall mirrors and poor looking plastic plants and up 5 more steps enter Cinema 2 with black walls an oak stained floor and large red curtains hiding the movie screen. Taking a right at the top of the steps go up 2 steps, Mens room on the right, through the sold red doors, small ladies room on the right. Up 10-12 steps and enter Cinema 3, the former balcony of Cinema 1. This was done up with red & white cloth in stripes reminded us of the former Grossmans only in red. the projection booth for Cinema 1 was below the Cinema 3 screen. The back wall of Cinema 3 was the projection booth. If anyone is interested in further details of the booths & ballroom I will be more than happy to post. I came across this site just the other day and wish I had found it sooner.

Lastdaysofrain
Lastdaysofrain on January 7, 2008 at 11:54 am

I saw my first movie here in 1982, it was “ET” it must have been right before this place died.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 27, 2007 at 8:31 am

The 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac lists the Medford Theatre as being operated by the Middlesex Amusement Co. (Ramsdell Brothers), which ran most of the theatres in Malden. The Medford Theatre is also listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1800 seats and being open 6 days per week. That seating figure appears to be incorrect.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 20, 2006 at 8:33 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Medford Theater on Salem Street has an exterior photo taken in April 1941. There is a fairly narrow entrance with a small marquee and vertical above and what appears to be a Palladian-style window over the marquee. The Report states that the Medford has been playing MGM product for over 10 years; that it’s over 15 years old; that it’s in Fair condition; and has 792 seats on the main floor and 504 in the balcony; total: 1296 seats.

mediaace
mediaace on March 20, 2006 at 7:22 am

The owner of the Medford Cinema was realtor Frank Andre, who also operated a real estate office diagonally across the street from the Cinema. I took and passed my Dept. of Public Safety projectionist’s test in the Cinema 1 booth in the mid-1970s.

mmcph
mmcph on July 8, 2005 at 3:03 pm

My husband and I are originally from Medford. He remembers the movie theater being called by the owner’s last name. The owner lived up on or near Fulton Street. Does anyone know this name or who the owner was?

valestrania
valestrania on April 8, 2005 at 3:57 pm

I visited this theater many times during my years as a student at Tufts University, in the late 70s & early 80s. Sorry to hear the auditorium part was demolished, glad the rest of the building is being put to good use.

bradlee
bradlee on April 2, 2005 at 12:18 pm

The building is known as the Dwyer Building,and was built in 1915,not 1917.I have some photos of whats left of the facade Ill post soon.
The rear theatre portion was torn down on August 25,1989.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 5, 2005 at 8:32 am

A Boston Globe article about cheap movie theatres, published on September 16, 1982, calls it the “Medford Square 1-2-3”. So it apparently was triplexed at some point before it died.

From the December 9, 1989 Globe: “A workman was injured yesterday when the rear of the three-story Medford Cinema building in Medford collapsed during renovation work.”

IanJudge
IanJudge on November 2, 2004 at 11:34 am

I believe that the auditorium was demolished in the early 1990’s, possibly as early as 1990. I don’t know much more about the history unfortunately. I think the Stormship office is in a former ballroom space on the second floor.

All I personally remember about the interior is that it was kind of dim and dirty, and very “60’s” looking. I remember the lobby was somewhat similar to the Arlington Capitol Theatre as it looked in the early 80’s -long and narrow and simple looking.

Sad to see the place go, for sure.

br91975
br91975 on November 2, 2004 at 11:13 am

Wow; thanks, Ian. Studying the exterior of the building in January of ‘03 (seeing the aluminum siding on the rear exterior and thinking nothing of it), speaking with one of the proprietors of the furniture store in the space to the right of the former lobby, and looking at the Stormship office space photos on their web site, I was under the impression that the auditorium space had only been gutted (and it killed me to think that that even happened since the Cinema 1 & 2 had been my childhood theatre and where I imagine I saw my first movie as well). Do you know approximately when the auditorium space was demolished or do you have any other details on the theatre and its history, etc.?

IanJudge
IanJudge on November 2, 2004 at 10:43 am

Sorry to report to you that the auditorium portion of the Medford Theatre was demolished a few years back and is now a parking lot. The front of the building, housing stores and office space, still exists.

I actually saw my first movie here, “101 Dalmatians”.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 1, 2004 at 3:52 am

Many thanks for your appraisal of the recent history of the former Medford Theater. I have an exterior photo and an auditorium shot taken in about 1924. There was very little decoration inside the auditorium and what stood out were two boxes on each splay wall beside the proscenium opening, which must have given a dreadful view of the screen (if they were ever used). The balcony had a seating capacity of 450. There was a ballroom located over the lobby and shop units which extended across the entire front of the building.

br91975
br91975 on October 31, 2004 at 8:32 pm

The Cinema 1 & 2 closed sometime around 1982 or 1983. I used to go there all the time with my parents between the ages of 5 and 7, seeing mostly Disney flicks there (‘The Fox and the Hound’, ‘Peter Pan’, and ‘Tron’, just to name a few) and remember the interior being fairly modern, which I later learned was the result of a major renovation in the late 1960s, in which most of, if not all, the interior’s original architectural elements were either stripped away or covered up and the theatre was twinned.

What ultimately killed it, I suspect, were a few factors: the then-new multiplex which opened its doors a few miles away at Assembly Square Mall in Somerville in 1981 (operated at the time by Sack Theatres and in the present day by Loews) and immediately began siphoning away first-run bookings, and both the Assembly Square Mall and the Meadow Glen Mall in Medford, which gradually killed most of Medford Square’s foot traffic and most of the retail businesses which resided within it (including the Cinema 1 & 2). Stormship, a communications design firm, occupies at least the former balcony/upstairs auditorium space of the Cinema 1 & 2 space, while the former lobby (which, during the time I went there, housed the box office, to the right a couple of arcade games and a small concession stand, and, to the left, the downstairs auditorium, and, to the far right, the staircase leading to the upstairs theatre) was, when I took a look during a weekend back home visiting family in January of 2003, serving as a storage area for a furniture store located next door to the right; the former orchestra or downstairs auditorium, I suspect, houses part of the Elizabeth Grady day spa located most prominently in the retail space to the left of the old lobby area.