Oriental Theatre

1601 Blue Hill Avenue,
Boston, MA 02126

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Showing 26 - 50 of 63 comments

kencmcintyre on November 7, 2007 at 3:36 am

1958, I think. You were pretty close.

paige75 on November 7, 2007 at 2:16 am

Thank you to ken mc for posting the picture of the Oriental
Theater. That really brings me back to a very happy time in
my life. I see a Debbie Reynolds picture was playing so I don't
think I was old enough to go see a movie at that time. I am
wondering what year that picture was taken by looking at the cars I would say 1959?. Too bad there doesn’t seem to be any interior pictures available of that one of a kind beautiful theater. Hopefully, someone someday will post some.
Thanks again!

kencmcintyre on November 5, 2007 at 5:05 am

An undated photo is on the left. The interior photo is of a different theater:

paige75 on July 30, 2007 at 2:58 am

I would like to see photographs of the Orie as well. Inside the theater and outside. That would be so awesome. I can still picture the inside with the red lacquered benches and oriental carpet!!!
Hope someone will post some photos.

bird383 on July 30, 2007 at 2:38 am

Hi , does anyone have photographs of the items that they have from the Orie or photographs of the orie that they would like to share either from the inside or outside?


paige75 on March 19, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Thanks for answering. You see I loved my neighborhood so much. I lived on Callender Street from the day I was born to age 18. You
cannot imagine how torn up I was about leaving our 2 family house
in Dorchester. My two bachelor uncles lived upstairs. My sister and
I didn’t sleep all night knowing we were moving to Mattapan Square
area the next day. The only things that kept me going was the fact
that my aunt bought the house and we could walk to the Oriental
now in about 10 mins. I still talk to my Dorchester friends and
we are young enough to remember everything about the Ori. I used
to go there with a babysitter and then was allowed to go with my
friends when I was 11 or 12. You are so lucky to have the clock.
I think the last movie I saw there was The Out of Towners w/Sandy
Dennis and Jack Lemmon. Oh yeah, I hate when they use the word
progress. NO!!! I don’t buy it, they should have kept the legacy
going on. Who cares about the mall theaters, the Oriental Theater
was in a class by itself. What they should have done was sell it
and restore it and keep it going. The area changed, different
class of people so that could be another reason they decided to
give it up. I called my mom to tell her about the place being
demolished. A flood of memories came back to her right away she
said she used to go there with my dad all the time before I was
born. Anyone from that time and place brightens right up and starts
talking about the Ori. Well, if I had the money I’d buy the theater
that just closed near where I live and turn it into another Oriental
Theater. My daughter never got to see the moving clouds and
twinkling stars in the ceiling in any theater but you can be sure
I told her all about it. BTW I just might remember that robot
costume. I think the kid won a bike. It was fun being a part of
something like that. I went home and thanked my parents for
buying a house in Dorchester because I loved the neighborhood so
much, the people, the stores and above all it was safe. I wrote
a whole piece about the good old days and it was published. We
will never have that again. Just think human beings caused the
safety and fun times to disappear!!!Enjoy your clock. I’m sure
everytime you look at it your wonderful memories of the Ori
come back to you.

lefty1947 on March 18, 2007 at 11:59 pm

You are right it was hard to watch the place be broken up bit by bit and it was hard to say goodbye but they kept saying that it was progress, I don’t think so it was money motivated all the way. when the malls and mega theaters arrived the old movie houses just couldn’t compete. and the Oriental was tired, the ATC owners didn’t put any money into upkeep and the place started to fall into disrepair. still it was a great place for kids to go and have fun. Try today letting 6 and 7 year olds out on their own for a Saturday afternoon visit to a movie theater. I used to walk for a half hour on Cummins Highway to get to the movie, can’t do that today. Oh I remember those Halloween contests. I think it was in 1958 a young boy won dressed as a robot. His costume was different sized cardboard boxes painted silver and held together with silver cloth at the joints, he was such a realistic robot. I remember no other costume had a chance and we clapped so loud and long for him that at the end he removed his robot head and he was crying and he thanked everybody for voting for him. It made you feel good to be a part of the fun.
I have 2 pieces of the theater, I have the green and orange neon clock that was over the exit door on the left side of the stage, and I have the poster from the movie Charade which is the last movie I saw there in 1964.

paige75 on March 16, 2007 at 12:30 am

I almost cried when I read the comment from Lefty. It’s so ironic
that you were involved in the demolition of that wonderful theater
when years before you spent many Saturdays having fun at the Oriental!! That must have been very troubling destroying a place of happiness. I wish I owned something from that theater. I spent
many Saturdays there with my friends watching cartoons and the
double scarey movies. At Halloween they told us to arrive in costume and they had contests for the best costume. The winner won a bike!
We all took those days forgranted, thought they’d last forever. All of a sudden all we have are memories. I still have my Dorchester friends and we still talk about the Ori!! How fortunate we were
to have a theater like that along with the glorious simple days,and
the nice safe neighborhoods.
That last time I went to the Ori was back in 1969.

lefty1947 on March 16, 2007 at 12:09 am

Hi Everybody
My name is Richard and I have 2 separate sets of memories of the Oriental Theater. First as a youngster in the summer my friend David and I would go to the Saturday matinee and see the cartoons the serial the main feature and the selected shorts and the air conditioning all for 20 cents. Then as a teen before being able to drive going either Friday night or Sunday afternoon and be with your friends. and I like many of you had my first kiss in the balcony. I remember many makeout sessions up in that balcony. The theater was a magic place for anybody who went there. From the red carpet the brass stanchions with the red velvet ropes on the front lobby to the stars and the moving clouds in the sky. It was setup to be like an outdoor Oriental Garden with statues and pagodas along the sides and it really felt like you were outside.
The other set of memories are of a different nature, after the theater closed I was one of the construction crew that demolished the interior. It was sad to see it go. After the auction and the interior decorations were salvaged most of the interior was destroyed with a few exceptions. The blue sky is still there and the openings for the stars. the floor was leveled, they broke up the chairs and used them for fill and still to level the floor 15 feet or so at the stage end of the auditorium they used almost 1500 cu yards of concrete, to put that in perspective the floor is now at the middle of the openings that used to be the exit doors on either side of the stage. The original stage is buried beneath 10 feet of concrete. The stage rigging and lighting is still there along with the original front wall and stairs (both sets) to the balcony, the swinging doors that are there now going from the lobby to the auditorium are in the original doorway. Except for a new level floor the balcony decor is pretty much the same as it was when the place was open, including some of the wall lights. The projection booths and the openings are still there. Also in the balcony are two of the three 4' ornate ceiling lights with all the glass still in place. Standing under those lights was like taking a time machine instantly back to a time when I were younger, I remember the orange glow from those lights, where I used to sit, who I was with, and did I watch the movie :–). The Oriental may be gone but the memories live on.

paige75 on March 12, 2007 at 6:09 pm


paige75 on March 12, 2007 at 6:07 pm

Anyone who used to live in the Dorchester or Mattapan area around
the late 1950’s up til 1966, especially people from Callender Street,Floyd St. and surrounding streets in Dorchester hope you
read this and write in about your wonderful memories of those
easy breezy simple days. Comments about the Oriental are fun to
read especially from my friends and I had lots of them back then.
We will have another Oriental Theater. When I go to a movie now
the theater is drab in comparison. It’s fun to talk about and
remember the good ole days in Dorchester and Mattapan Square that
was home to the Oriental Theater.

suldog on March 12, 2007 at 1:52 pm

The Oriental was very much the cinema house of my youth. I believe I’ve had some correspondence with one or two of you before – Bird? Anyway, I wrote about it, and a few other things no longer in existence, in my blog. You might like to take a look.

View link

dontpanic on March 9, 2007 at 4:27 pm

I used to go to the Oriental Theater in Mattapan, MA during the late 60’s for the Kidde Double Feature matinees. That cloud machine and the twinkling stars were truly a sight to behold. Of all the Boston area movie theaters during the 60’s this was truly my favorite. While it may not have been the largest the Oriental Theater in Mattapan was truly a movie palace.

DennisJOBrien on January 12, 2007 at 2:01 am

The Oriental in Mattapan was a special place indeed. Our family lived in Milton, just over the Boston border, so it was nearby. I loved the atmosphere inside the theater, as did everyone. We saw The Beatles in “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964, “Georgy Girl” in 1966, and “Bonnie and Clyde” in 1967, among many others. I remember being terribly surprised and saddened when the place closed and became a store for lighting. The Mattapan Square neighborhood went through a white flight period in the 1970’s and I think the shopping district is finally coming back to a more stable situation.

Claudomir on July 17, 2006 at 11:35 pm


My name is Carline Claudomir and I grew up in Mattapan. A much different Mattapan than most of you are speaking of. I would love to hear more about the area. But really I would love to see some pictures. I’ve always wondered of the communities that were there before me. I wonder about the old buildings and what they use to be.
I can be reached at
I currently live in Orlando, FL and look forward to moving back home really soon.

Capeguy on June 18, 2006 at 6:55 pm

The original Wurlitzer organ, Opus 2131, installed in 1930 was removed by J Arthur Goggin and subsequently sold to Larry McPherson of Indianapolis who planned to install it in a pizza restaurant. That never materialized and the organ was sold to Dan Stankey & myself (Terry Hochmuth) who restored it and installed it in our home in New Lenox, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, in 1983. After I suffered a tragic accident in 1995 and was severely burned, it was sold to Ron Rhode and Ron Tanner in Pheonix and installed in their home. In June, 2006, it was removed from their home and is I once again own it. It will be installed in my new home in North Truro, MA. A true case of a Mighty Wurlitzer that’s returning to its home territory!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 11, 2006 at 4:42 pm

Fred’s name is spelled McLennan. Sorry about that!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 10, 2006 at 4:14 pm

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Oriental has a photo of the facade taken in May 1941. Films playing are “Philadelphia Story” and “Flight from Destiny”. The Report states that the theatre has been presenting MGM film product for over 10 years; that it’s in Good condition; and has 1421 seats on the orchestra floor and 746 in the balcony, total: 2167. There was another movie theatre in Mattapan Square— the Mattapan Theatre which was at 510 River Street, which I believe would place it on the opposite side of the square. It had 781 seats. Many artifacts from the Oriental did end up in Fred McLellan’s theatre in Canton, MA which he renamed the “Oriental”. I believe that this was the old Strand Theatre on Washington Street which had about 500 seats. The Oriental Theatre in Mattapan was a busy and popular “nabe” which lasted a long time, and was also a fairly rare example of an “atmospheric” cinema design in New England.

paige75 on October 2, 2005 at 1:10 am

I was born in Boston and raised in Dorchester on Callender St. the Blue Hill Ave. end in back of the Prime market, Norman’s toy store,Willies & Eddies fruit store, Sunlite Bakery, Nollers, remember those stores how could you forget. The Ori or Oriental was a magical place to me, my parents took my sister and I there for the first time when I was 7. I looked at the clouds and twinkling stars more than the movies. Years later til age 18 I went to that theater. I spent so much time there I really should have worked there when I was 16. What a glamorous theater, of course it was fashioned after Grauman’s Chinese in CA. I can just picture those Buddah’s high up on the wall with the red gleaming eyes. Growing up in Dorchester was the best time in my life. In 1967 we moved to Mattapan, a 10 minute walk to the Oriental Theater. I remember going there with my sister and friends to see a movie called ‘A Patch of Blue'in 1965. So I spent a lot of years in that theater. How sad that the best and I mean the best of times and places are only temporary and become just a lasting and loving memory. The Oriental theater will always have a special meaning and place in my heart forever.

brcleve on September 7, 2005 at 11:08 pm

thanks, Ron – when I searched CT for Dorchester, nothing showed up…..but there it is now! Now a church, it reads, and there is one on that block. I guess there’s a different entrance though. Maybe I’ll join the congregation

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 7, 2005 at 11:00 pm

Yes, the Franklin Park Theatre is already listed at CinemaTreasures.

brcleve on September 7, 2005 at 10:42 pm

Does anyone have any info about another theatre on Blue Hill Ave, further north in Dorchester. There is a facade of a boarded up theatre visible on a block near the intersection of Columbia Rd, across from the northern edge of Franklin Park. I’m curious as to what theatre this was – possibly a remnant from that neighborhoods years as a vibrant Jewish community. Anyone recall this?

JSklar on March 29, 2005 at 5:40 pm

Hi – A friend and I were discussing the Ori recently – I grew up in Mattapan attending this theatre and well remember the clouds, buddhas, stars, etc. Later in life I moved to an apt. in Canton. When venturing into the center, much to my surprise, there was a theatre named “oriental” – couldn’t believe it when I attended a movie and found that indeed, the cloud machine, buddhas, etc were there and working. The buddhas, as I remeber from my childhood, had lit red and green eyes. They popped their own corn with real butter too! The theatre closed shortly thereafter, I only saw one movie there. It is now just another bldg. in the center.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 20, 2005 at 4:44 am

That neighborhood could sure use a movie theatre. For that matter, all the other Boston neighborhoods could, too. There are currently no movie theaters in any Boston neighborhood outside Downtown, Back Bay, and the Fenway, except for the Circle on the Brighton/Brookline line. And a recent news story says that may soon close because a residential developer wants to buy it.

ptrusten on January 20, 2005 at 4:32 am

It was once just part of a landscape, and now it is a psychological shrine—-The Oriental Theater—-the Ori. Before DVDs and cable television, this was my house of entertainment. To this day, I find it difficult to conceive of a new motion picture running before my eyes without the aroma of popcorn and the clouds and stars of that theater. I grew up in Mattapan from 1954 to 1964, and that theater is part of my being. This feeling has to be true of my contemporaries. If any of those ar reading this, say hello to me at