Liberty Theatre

726 Blue Hill Avenue,
Dorchester, MA 02121

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Showing 23 comments

matilde on August 21, 2016 at 8:19 pm

Dear Phillip, I would love to see the photos. Thanks, Lisa

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on May 22, 2013 at 10:58 am

I visited the Liberty shortly before it was demolished, check out a short blog post at After the Final Curtain.

jaboschen on March 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Hey Philip! I live in the Boston area and that building always fascinated me. I would love to check out your pictures. Do you have an e-mail address so I can get in better touch with you? Thanks :–)

PhilipAdams on July 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm


I was inside the former Liberty Theater at 726 Blue Hill Avenue in Boston on Tuesday, June 26, 2012, as one of several contractors and City of Boston officials attending a site visit for the purposes of preparing for the demolition of the building.

The facility is slated for demolition in the coming weeks. The actual dismantling, following the abatement of asbestos materials and other hazards, will likely begin in early August.

The interior is fairly gutted and in severe disrepair. There are areas, including the basement and stage rear areas, that are not accessible due to both collapses and water one to two feet deep.

However, there are still some architectural artifacs visible, which will likely be destroyed, unless some laborer with a historian’s bent rescues them for himself or for the local historic society (as I often do).

I have fifty plus photos. Anyone interested in receiving them, please write back, and I will send them via “SkyDrive” to the e-mail address you provide.

My limited computer skills have prevented me from successfully up-loading them here. Sorry.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I’ve been able to move some street views up to a mile or so (unfortunately, these moves always leave the pin icon on the map in the old location.) But I’ve noticed that there are places where Google’s street view camera just didn’t go, and some places where there is a disconnection from one block to another. A couple of times I’ve been able to “take an alternate route” around a disconnection, getting access to a particular block from the opposite direction.

These situations are especially common in small towns, where the camera truck didn’t travel every street, and in old cities with very irregular street layouts. If the views you’ve been trying to move have been in such locations, that might be the problem. I’ve had to update several small town theaters with views from an intersection down the street, simply because Google’s camera truck didn’t cover the block the theater is on. It’s usually not a very good view, but it’s better than none at all.

I think Ken must have adjusted and reset the view for the Liberty early this morning. It was farther away last night.

If you move the street view down Charlotte Street, just past the brick apartment house, you can see the side wall of the Liberty’s auditorium with the large plants growing from the roof. If I lived in that house next door, I’d be reluctant to use my side yard for fear that a big chunk of the wall of the theater would collapse onto it. I’m surprised that the local authorities haven’t condemned the auditorium and ordered its demolition.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

Joe- the only time your technique worked for me was for the Rialto/Star in downtown Boston when I was easily able to move at least 500-600 feet up the street and around a bend, before pivoting left. All of the other times the View could not be moved far enough.The View goes to a certain point, and no further. Btw, I notice that the Street View above for the Liberty has been “unset” and brought in closer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 6, 2011 at 1:02 am

I’m not sure why it’s not working for you, Ron. As long as the “Update” button hasn’t already been used, and thus removed, I’ve always been able to reset the street views to the correct location. It might be a browser issue. I’ve only ever reset views using Opera, so I don’t know whether or not there are other browsers that don’t work properly with the Update feature.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 5, 2011 at 11:47 am

At least in this Street View, the Liberty Theatre can be seen. Many of the Street Views are far from their theater. I used Joe Vogel’s technique above to sucessfully move the Street View for one theater at least 500- 600 feet up the street; but it was a dismal failure 7 or 8 other times. It seems to have something to do with the location of a “pivot-point” in the photo.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm

The Street View was “updated” too far from the theater’s entrance. Left click on the photo, then click the street arrow to move one or two turns up the block, then click the right arrow in the compass rose at upper left to pivot to a more direct view of the theater front. You can also left click on the photo and hold the button down, then move your mouse to pivot the view to either side, or up or down.

It’s possible to get decent views of most theaters, but a lot of pages have been updated with inferior views, and in some cases with no view of the theater at all. Many CT users who have updated the views seem to be unaware of the finer points of Street View’s workings (not surprising, since those workings aren’t explained anywhere on the page, and not everybody is familiar with the application.)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 13, 2011 at 10:51 am

In the Google Streetview photo above, the Liberty’s entrance is just beyond the light pole and the blue awning. The decorative filials poking up at the top of the theater facade are original.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

The auditorium was still standing when Google’s and Bing’s satellite views were made, but it was in very rough shape. In fact there is shrubbery growing on the roof! In Google’s satellite view I actually thought the building had been demolished, the growth along the edges of the roof is so thick. Some of them appear to be young trees.

If this building hasn’t been at least stabilized since those pictures were taken, I can only imagine how bad its condition must be by now. Once large plants have taken root on a building’s roof, its collapse is very near. I doubt that there’s much hope for the Liberty Theatre’s survival.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2011 at 3:12 am

The Liberty in Dorchester is listed in the “Theatre Construction, Openings and Sales” column of Boxoffice, October 8, 1949. The house had been remodeled for ATC Theatres and reopened as an art house. ATC (American Theatres Corporation) was a chain headed by Sam Pinanski, formerly of M&P Theatres.

EdwardFindlay on March 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm

The address is 726, per county registry of deeds and city assessment documents and maps. It’s still there building and all- it’s not torn down, it’s crumbling in some spots but it’s still there.

The city owns the property and is trying to sell it, hopefully someone decides to save the property from demolition and renovates it: any use is better than demolition.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

In a 1918 Boston street directory, the Liberty Th. at 724 or 730 Blue Hill Ave. is not listed. So it opened sometime after 1918.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 27, 2010 at 10:13 am

I heard from someone who talked with someone who attended the open house on Nov 20 and who says that the theater is still intact, but very shabby inside. At the showing, the original address was stated as being # 724.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 20, 2009 at 11:17 am

This morning at 11 AM the Liberty was open so that prospective buyers could view the property. The City of Boston is now apparently the owner. The address they used is “724”. I get the impression that the place is all still intact. I am hoping to hear from someone who went to the showing. I have heard that it closed to movies way back in 1954, but I’m not sure of that.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

In the souvenire booklet for the 1983 convention in Boston of the Theatre Historical Society there is an exterior view of the Liberty as well as an interior photo. The latter was taken from the center of the main floor looking towards the screen and probably dates from when the house was new. Inside the proscenium arch there is a second proscenium with drapes and curtains which cover the movie screen. On each sidewall there is a large box with 6 or more seats in it. There may have been a balcony as well. There are fancy metal grills above the boxes and capped pilasters and wall hangings on the side walls. There is a flat, plain ceiling with moulding around it and no chandeliers, but the photographer may have been standing too far forward for any lighting to show. It’s a nice, smaller theater which appears to have been purpose-built for movies.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 6, 2009 at 10:08 am

Since we now know that the street address for the Liberty is somewhere around 724/730 Blue Hill Avenue, this means that it is fairly close to another surviving theater, the Franklin Park Th., which is at 616 Blue Hill Ave. The latter is a church and its interior was damaged by a fire last winter.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

I just went to Google Street View for 724 Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester, and there is no doubt whatsoever that the Liberty Theatre, (the entrance structure at least), is still standing. So is the old apartment building to its left, which has been “modernized” to some extent.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 4, 2009 at 10:58 am

Thank you, EdFindlay, for estimating the street address, and for the news that it is still standing. Charlie Stewart in 1983 wrote that it was serving as a warehouse at that time.

EdFindlay on September 4, 2009 at 3:09 am

Address is roughly 724 or 726 Blue Hill Ave.

And this theater is not demolished, it is still standing.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 11, 2007 at 7:48 am

There was a good-quality exterior photo of the Liberty Theatre in the souvenir booklet for the 1983 convention of the Theatre Historical Society in Boston. The photo came from the collection of Earl Stanley “Charlie” Stewart and is undated. At the time, the Liberty had a rectangular marquee with “Liberty Theatre” in bulbed letters on the front. Above was a very fancy vertical blade sign. Under the marquee was a small sign with the NETOCO logo. Attractions posted are Greta Garbo in “Wild Orchids” plus a Tom Mix movie. To the left is the same apartment house which shows in the 1941 MGM photo; to the right is a Pharmacy. There is a notation that the Liberty is “presently a warehouse” (in 1983).

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 21, 2007 at 8:04 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Liberty Theatre has an exterior photo dated April 1941. The theatre entrance was at the left end of a 1 ½ story commercial block. The theatre had a fancy facade with an arched window above and a pointed parapet above that. There was a triangular marquee and a single poster case on each side of the entrance doors. To the left of the theatre was a 3-story brick apartment building. Next to it on the right was a store with “Franklin Park” in its name, possibly “Franklin Park Pharmacy” or “Franklin Park Photography”. The Report states that the Liberty is on Blue Hill Avenue (But unfortunately does not give the street number), that it has been playing MGM films for over 10 years; that it’s over 15 years old and in Poor condition, and has 898 seats. In the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook, the Liberty is listed as having 700 seats and being open 7 days per week. The theatre was part of the M&P Theatres circuit at one time.