From the 19 teens up through the 1950s, 60s and even the 70s, there were many Dorchester theatres showing movies. Some of them booked plays and musical events as well. Now in 2004, the Strand Theatre, which no longer shows movies, seems to be the only one left.
And don't forget the Neponset Drive-In
Adams Theatre, Adams Corner, just up from Minot Street on the west side of Adams Street.
Codman Square Theatre, 635 Washington Street, about a block south of Codman Square #4284
Dorchester Theatre, later called the Park Theatre, in Fields Corner at the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Park Street #4281
Fields Corner Theatre, in Fields Corner at the intersection of Adams Street and Dorchester Avenue, just south of Arcadia Street, at the parking lot where the bank and Meyers Deli are now #4278
Reader's Comment: From: Chuck Pellegrino
In the early 1950's I lived in the Fields Corner neighborhood and remember well the Fields Corner theater. Though I was too young to have seen a movie there, I remember an occasional treat at Charlie's Ice Cream Parlor, which I think was just adjacent to the theater.
Franklin Park Theatre, on Blue Hill Avenue at Ellington Street, close to Columbia Road, originally a Yiddish theatre, the actor who starred in Fiddler on the Roof (Zero Mostel?) played in this theatre #4270
Grove Hall Theatre, see Shawmut Theatre
Hamilton Theatre, at 256 Bowdoin Street, between Hamilton and Quincy Streets, "The Hash House", Ed Forry says you snuck in through a second story and the "Iron Duke" was waiting for you and escorted you out #4263
Ideal Theatre, at 530 Dudley Street, between Albion and Burrell Streets #4260
Liberty Theatre, on Blue Hill Avenue between Esmond and Charlotte Streets #4275
Magnet Theatre, at 305 Washington Street, about 2 lots south of Harvard Avenue #4277
Mattapan Theatre, on River Street at Mattapan Square, was located where the parking for the T is now #4311
Morton Theatre, on Rhoades Street between Blue Hill Avenue and Morton Street #4312
Neponset Drive-In, this was located where Pope John Paul II Park is now
Oriental Theatre, in Mattapan Square on Blue Hill Avenue just north of Fairway Street #4287
Park Theatre, see Dorchester Theatre
Shawmut Theatre, also called the Grove Hall Theatre, at 364 Blue Hill Avenue between Creston and Intervale Streets #
Strand Theatre, (see its own web page) at the intersection of Columbia Road and Hancock Street #4262
Uphams Corner Theatre, in Winthrop Hall, Uphams Corner at the corner of Columbia Road and Dudley Street across from the Strand.
Responses received October 2006
RE: the Adams Theatre:
I remember when it was new and first time I went there
it had "fancy seats"-- sliding-- most comfortable of any Theatre
in Dorchester especially the "Mattapan" with the benches in first
couple of rows! The "Orie" [the Oriental Theatre] was always the best w/clouds etc and the "Coddie" [Codman Square] had the best "second Balcony" (and the meanest ushers)
The Adams Theater pictured was on Adams just N of Minot St. Where the Apt. Bldg now stands. It was not really a very elegant theater- without the fanciful wall paintings of the Dorchester Theater or the size of the Field's Corner. The place you referred to: corner of Gallivan and Hallet was occupied by Sholl's Roller Skating Rink even after the 'new 'Adam's Theater was built. I don't think there was ever an old Adams Theater but it was called the new Adam's Theater as it was the first new theater built in some time.
The address on the matchbox is 735 Adams Street. Current day 735 Adams Street is the rear apartment building in the complex just North of the Shell station across from Sonny's restaurant in Adams Village. That would place the theatre North of Minot Street on or just off Adams Street. Is it possible the apartment buildings were built on the site of the theater?
I remember seeing "Johnny Tremain" there circa 1960. The theatre was typical of the era (if memory serves), nicer than the then Strand on Dorchester Ave, but no where near as elaborate as the ones on Tremont St in Boston. Perhaps the reference to "finest" has more to do with amenities like parking, seat comfort, and improved screen and sound equipment?
The Adams Theater was a neighborhood movie theater located on Adams Street opposite Saranac Street (the street that forks off of Minot). It was build on part of the land that was part of the Pierce house on Adams Street. It was built, I would guess in the 1940s and torn down in the early sixties to make way for the large brick apartment building that is across from O'Connell's funeral home. The Pierce house was torn down for the Shell gas station. I remember seeing the 10 Commandments there and the Horse Soldiers (1959) there. It was very much like the Wallaston theater that is now closed except it was a little smaller. I think it was newer and the seats were padded like most modern theaters, kind of a brown leather like padding. I think it was the "new" Adams Street theater to distinguish it from the older theaters in the neighborhood. It had a small stage but a big screen. It was built as a movie house. It could handle cinimiscope, and the newer technologies. My mother would talk about the older neighborhood theaters that were like the East Milton Sq. theater, just store fronts basically that widened into movie houses. They had continuous running double features, a news real. a cartoon and for the matinee, a serial. Kids were .25, adults were $1 after 6 and I think .50 before. Also, they gave out dishes as a premium.
RE: the Oriental Theatre
THERE IS A RUMOR THAT THE CEILING FROM THE ORIENTAL THEATER IN MATTAPAN , WAS TAKEN DOWN AND RE INSTALLED IN THE ORIENTAL THEIR IN CANTON, ANYONE KNOW ANY THING ABOUT THAT? CAN WE CHECK IT OUT AND PUT THE STORY TO REST, ANYONE REMEMBERING THE BEAUTIFUL CEILING IN THE ORIENTAL THEATER IN MATTAPAN, IT WAS BEAUTIFUL STARS AND CLOUDS, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THEATER I HAD EVER SEEN
Comment received from Karen Timmons, October, 2006:
I've reached the age of reminiscence, passing personal info on to my daughter and granddaughter. We went to the Morton Theater, where our parents gave us a nickel or a dime, packed us lunches, and sent us off for Saturday afternoon. We were loud and roudy kids. One Saturday, during the usual screeming, whistling, and pocorn throwing, the manager came on stage to quiet us and was pelted with popcorn and empty candy boxes. He got off the stage and intermission was over. We could walk it from my house on Jacob St. The Oriental was too far to walk and a real treat to be there. I spent more time looking at the ceiling than the screen. The Neponset Drive is where my parents and I went almost every Saturday night.
RE: Upham's Corner Theater
Also of interest was that directly across the street was the Uphams Theatre. In the 50's when thre was a Saturday Matinee the ushers in the Strand were always on the the kids to "Behave". Whereas over in the Uphams they would just let the kids be kids.
Bill Howe, June, 2007
From: Rick Callahan
My best friend and I used to walk to the Franklin Park Theater in the early 1950's when we were both about 7. It was a 10-15 minute walk and we went alone. No one worried about child molesters in those days. I don't remember what the cost was but I'm guessing 25-50 cents to get in. You could get popcorn and a candy and I'm sure the whole thing cost less than $1. For that price you got a newsreel, several cartoons, coming attractions, a serial (Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon come to mind) with a cliffhanger every week, and 2 feature films - mostly westerns and science fiction as I recall. The theater had a balcony I think although it was always closed. Occasionally my parents would take me to see a movie at night and that was a special thrill. Every so often my friend and I take a ride into Dorchester to see what the old neighborhood looks like and I see that the theater is now a church. It helps to relive good memories just to see the building is still standing. Kids today can!
have their computers and iPods. To me, THOSE were the best of times.
April 2009 from Paul DeLorey
The Adams St Theatre used to be where the apt buildings are now-across from O'Connor Funeral home. The theatre was torn down about 1968-70. I remember seeing sat afternoon movies for 25 cents. I wish someone had a picture of the theatre-I can't remember it well-I was too young. Paul D.
April 2009 from Paul Cass
I remember the July 4th holidays when the politician's put on some big
shows. The Adams Theater had an Elephant on its stage back then for
the summer holiday and the line to get in went all the way to the back
lot and doubled back to Adams street.
I grew up at Saint Peters in the forties and early fifties. The theater was owned by a Charlie Wilson. It was the Hamilton Theater, the hammy or the hash house, later became some kind of a gym. On Saturday they had chum day, 14 cents for the movie and 1 penny for your chum. Those were the days, thanks for the memories jo spencer
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Created: July 27, 2004 Modified: February 2, 2011