Tremont Temple

88 Tremont Street,
Boston, MA 02108

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Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 29, 2010 at 4:40 am

For the first time I can remember, Black Nativity will not be performed at Tremont Temple this December. Instead of twelve shows at Tremont Temple, there will be only four at Northeastern University. I don’t know why.

z11111 on December 10, 2009 at 7:09 pm


I was lucky enough to go inside of the building and take some photos.
View link


rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 26, 2009 at 10:43 am

JackCoursey- I can see what you mean by lighting— the photos make the place look run-down, cold and drab; whereas it isn’t like that at all when all the lights are on.

JackCoursey on October 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Unfortunately the balance of the photos I made of the interior didn’t turn out as well due very little lighting in the sanctuary/auditorium. The rear of the sanctuary continues with the theatre motif (note the projection booth in the top balcony and theatre seating rather than pews) whereas the pulpit is about the only area distinctively,…..churchy.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 25, 2009 at 10:18 am

JackCoursey’s 2 photos are beautiful. Yes, it is definitely a church; please see comments above. It was designed by a theater architect. It is the 4th Tremont Temple church on the same site. The very first was indeed a theater converted into a church. Each succeeding church was designed to look like a theater. The current one, opened in 1896, was used as a first-run movie house from about 1910 into the 1920s. It has 2582 seats, not 2852 as above.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on October 25, 2009 at 5:25 am

Definitely a church, as it is the fourth Tremont Temple to stand on this site. (See all the earlier comments.) It is listed here because it has also been used to show movies. Today it is still occasionally rented out for live performances.

JackCoursey on October 24, 2009 at 6:54 pm

What is the verdict on this building; was it ever a theatre or has it always been a church? Both the exterior and interior strongly suggest that it was initially intended to be a theatre. Here are a few shots from 2009: 1, 2

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 11, 2009 at 10:20 pm

The Mystic Chorale, a ‘non-profit, volunteer run community chorus’, occasionally perform at Tremont Temple. I attended one of their shows last weekend.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 13, 2008 at 11:03 am

ken mc – but it’s not closed, it’s open. You can go there any Sunday morning and look the place over. By your logic, other former movie theaters here in CT which now present stage works should be listed as “Closed” – theaters like the Wang and Opera House in Boston, the New Amsterdam and Palace in NY, the Oriental and Chicago Theatre in Chicago, and so on. Perhaps if a movie theater has ceased operating and been drastically converted inside into, say, a bowling alley, then maybe one could list it in CT as “Closed”.

kencmcintyre on November 7, 2008 at 7:12 pm

If it’s not showing films now the status would be closed, I think.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 11, 2006 at 12:55 pm

This old postcard of the Tremont Temple dates to the first decade of the 20th Century.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 3, 2006 at 7:50 am

The first movie presentation in Boston of a film made with the then-new Kinemacolor process was in the Spring of 1913 at Tremont Temple. The movie covered the Imperial Coronation of King Edward VII in Delhi, India and was hyped as “the most spectaculr pageant ever photographed”. It was presented at the Tremont Temple by George “Kid Gloves” Martin. This event is mentioned by Joe Cifre in his essay “Saga of the Movie Industry in Boston”, which he apparently wrote circa 1950 ?? The seating capacity of Tremont Temple in 1896 was : main floor, 834; first balcony and choir loft, 736; second balcony, 1012; total: 2582. For movie presentation, many of these seats at the sides of the balconies and in the choir loft would have little or no view of the movie screen.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 26, 2006 at 1:40 pm

From the Boston Globe, April 30, 1916, page 54:

Tremont Temple Pictures

“The Wizard of Oz”, the musical comedy made famous by Montgomery and Stone, is the motion picture feature offered in the double bill at Tremont Temple this week from 1 to 10:30 pm daily. All the amusing situations have been retained in the picture adaptation of this delightful comedy. The antics of the acrobatic mule, the kangaroo, the tin woodman and the scarecrow are all reproduced in the movie.

The other feature of the picture bill is “David Copperfield.” This is its third booking at this house and the possibilities are very remote of its ever being presented again. This is well known as one of Charles Dickens' most famous novels, and picturized as it is by the Hepworth Company of London there is little question why it has merited so many reengagements this season.

[The above is editorial text. On the same page is a display ad:]

The Home of Wholesome Entertainment
Continuous 1 to 10:30 P.M. Daily





In Five Magnificent Parts

Prices 25c, 15c, 10c None Higher

[i happened across this while exploring the Boston Globe archives at ProQuest Historical Newspapers. These are free to anyone with a Boston Public Library card, if you start from this page.]

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 19, 2006 at 3:01 am

Tremont Temple is shown on both this 1895 map and this 1928 map. It is on the east side of Tremont, just south of School Street, and surrounded on several sides by the Parker House hotel.

To get oriented, note that the 1895 map has west at the top, while the 1928 map has north at the top. If you are on a slow dialup connection, you may not want to follow these links, as the map images are quite large.

If you go to the Bostonian Society’s online historical photo collection and enter “Tremont Temple” into the search box, you’ll find quite a few pictures, including one of the 1852 fire’s ruins and several others showing previous Temples.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 18, 2006 at 7:47 am

The old Tremont Theatre was opened in 1827. It was not sucessful and was sold for conversion to the first Tremont Temple in 1843. It was destroyed by fire in 1852. The second Tremont Temple burned in 1879; the third Tremont Temple also burned down in 1893. The 4th Tremont Temple opened in 1896 and has luckily had a fire-free life !

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 13, 2006 at 8:40 am

Ron- I never read King’s article “Boston’s First Movie Palace” – he told me that he had written it and submitted it to the THSA editor. This would have been circa late-1990s. He also told me about seeing a movie, which he thought was “Treasure Island” at the Tremont Temple, taken there by his Aunt when he was of grade-school age.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 13, 2006 at 8:32 am

Thanks. That book is in the reference section of many BPL branches, and I will try to look at it today. Where did you read King’s unpublished essay?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 13, 2006 at 8:31 am

Ron Newman- there are some comments about Charles Grandgent and his essay, on the page for the Comique Theatre in Boston.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 13, 2006 at 8:25 am

They must have had to man-handle the screen up and down, and maybe stack the poster-boards out of sight. Don King’s article was never published and I don’t have a copy. It might be in the editor’s files at THSA. Charles Grandgent’s essay is in the huge book “Fifty Years in Boston” published in 1932 by the Boston Tercentary Committee. That book should be in the BPL and at the Bostonian Society. It was published during the 300th birthday year of the City of Boston.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 13, 2006 at 7:55 am

Thanks. Where can I find King’s article and Grandgent’s essay? What was the essay called?

Must have been a lot of work to convert it from a movie theatre on Saturday night back to a church on Sunday morning.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 13, 2006 at 7:55 am

It would seem that the movies must have been a very good source of revenue for the church in the 1910s and 1920s. However, with the construction of several large movie theatres downtown and possibly the conflicts with church activities, as well as the need to wire the house for sound films, the film exhibition ended. And despite the fine acoustics in the Converse Hall, almost nothing seems to be presented there, other than church activities.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 13, 2006 at 7:48 am

The late Donald King, author of a recent book about Boston theatres, saw at least one film (“Treasure Island”, he thought) at the Tremont Temple in the 1920s. He wrote an article about it entitled “Boston’s First Movie Palace”. Charles Grandgent, author of a long essay about Boston theatres in 1932, also attended films at the Tremont Temple.It appears that movies were not presented there continuously, week-in and week-out, but rather on a basis of availability. So, a movie would play there for 3 weeks, then the house would go dark for a short period until the next film would come out. The first Tremont Temple was a conversion around 1827 of the old Tremont Theatre. When it burned down, a second church was erected. When that burned down, a third church opened on the same site, and when that also was destroyed by fire, the present Tremont Temple was constructed and opened in May, 1896. All of these churches had a theatre-like facade. The main auditorium, which served as a cinema long ago, is today called Converse Hall, and has excellent acoustics. In recent years, the “Black Nativity” shows have been presented there during the Christmas season.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 13, 2006 at 7:41 am

Here is the Tremont Temple’s website.

A live production of Langston Hughes' Black Nativity is staged here every December. I highly recommend seeing it if you’re in Boston during that time.

I don’t think the church is leased out for any other productions anymore.

Ron, do you know more about the movies that were shown here, and why they ended?