Rivoli Theatre

125 Dudley Street,
Roxbury, MA 02119

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reggiemack on March 3, 2024 at 11:20 pm

Does anyone remember Florio? He was the very distinguished gentleman who ran the Rivoli theatre in the fifties and the sixties. He was such a nice man. He was very kind and extremely generous to his patrons and the community, at-large. He was always well groomed and immaculately dressed except when he would replace his suit jacket with the work smock he would wear during box office duty or providing concessions. He was friends with my parents and grandparents. He “baby-sat” me and my siblings almost every Saturday by hosting us at his movie theatre. Mom would call him to let him know we were on our way. When we reached the theatre, he would get us “settled-in” with our goodies and whatnot. Then he’d start the “first” movie. Afterwhich, he’d call my mother and let her know that we were in his care. She’d then do her weekly chores, run errands, shop for groceries, etc., without the additional burden of having to maintain her rather large flock, in tow. Given that we got “More than our money’s worth” at the Rivoli she had about 4-5 hours free to get it all done! Then, after treating us with extra goodies or movie gifts like special movie posters or small movie toys to go home, he’d call my mother to let her know we were on our way home. The “Village” was in full swing in those days, when the community took care of its own. In the late sixties, we moved to the suburbs. Still, Florio would travel out to our home on occasion to visit with us. He was a lovely man to me and my sibling, my entire family. The Rivoli Theatre and more significantly, Florio were such an integral part of my wonder years. I miss him to this day! I felt so very close to him and I never even knew his last name. If anyone knows/remembers anything about him or his family and/or his relationship with the Rivoli and/or the community, please, please, share.


DavidZornig on March 31, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Two 1939 photos added courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

rrahim on November 10, 2013 at 9:14 am

Hi there, I rember the Rivoli as being the “Plush” movie theatre in the early 1950’s. My siblings and I went there when we had the 25 cents admission price. They gave out prizes at the end of each show. They ripped your ticket in half, giving you one half back and the second half went into a bucket. At the end of the show, the master of ceremony would come on stage and pull a winning ticket out of the bucket and announce the winner and the prize. I once won a “Roy Roger’s watch” . I loved that theatre. That’s when you got more than you paid for when you attended the movies!

MarkB on July 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Ron – you left out the Jamaica Theatre, which was on Centre st. quite near Perkins street. It is represented here.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Linesides- no, it’s not my baby; it’s run by guys in Calif. There used to be more members making comments from eastern-MA; now there’s only a few. There are 3 theaters listed here for JP- the Egleston, the Madison and the Strand. The latter two were on Centre St. I don’t see anything around Perkins St. Problem is that some of the neighborhood theaters are listed here under just plain “Boston” while others are listed under their neighborhood, such as JP, Roxbury, Dorchester, East Boston, etc. Makes it hard to find all of them, sometimes.

LINESIDES on April 8, 2012 at 8:07 am

Ron there was a theater located in the building indicated in the link I have supplied. I am leaning towards the Perkins Street site. The other location I know that there was a Bowling Alley in that building. I don’t remember the name. Don’t remember what I saw their. Dont rember Just what building. Maybe some other folks could chime in. Ron, Is this web site your baby? http://www1.whdh.com/weather/radar/

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Linesides- OK, it took me about 5 minutes of riding around, but I found the UPS truck, with 2 yellow backhoes working in the distance. That location is about where I thought the Rivoli entrance was. If you went to the movies at any of the Jamaica Plain movie theaters, please make comments. Most of them are listed here in Cinema Treasures, also.

LINESIDES on April 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I then moved to the Heath street projects in Jamaca plain. 58 to 68. Last white person to leave!

LINESIDES on April 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Go to the view above put your cursor on the street and click the right arrow.> I believe it is a safer neighborhood than when you were in their. If you need to go back I would recomend day light hours only. I am 67 years old. Lived off of Washington street half way between Dudly street station and Egleston station on Galena street. Moved out in 1957. I wonderfull memories from these days.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Linesides- I have rotated the Streetview photo above around and around, but I don’t see a UPS truck. Wasn’t the Rivoli across the street somewhere along where the trees are and all the cars are parked with their back ends against the sidewalk?
I worked on Vernon St near Dudley terminal 1968-70 and it was very rough then. The movie theaters were all gone by that time. The area was OK until about 2PM or 3PM or so. Many people where I worked carried weapons. I did not have a gun, although I knew how to use one. I did have a “pig-sticker” knife which I bought in a gun shop in Alabama. I was glad when our office moved to the Forest Hills section of J.P. in Sept. 1970. I think Dudley Square is more stable today (I hope).

LINESIDES on April 1, 2012 at 11:04 am

It sat at the rear of that UPS truck is. The street to the right was not there during its time!

LINESIDES on March 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Movies I have seen their. King Kong, Frankenstine, Wolfman, Superman, Did the most all of the Saturday mattinees. Three stooges,Captian Marvel. The Tingler with Vincent Price. They actualy wired chairs to some sort of transformer and at key moments sent juce to the seats causing differant sections to be shocked. A woman would scream and fake a faint. Strecher barrers would carry her out. They basic scared the hell out of you! About the theater. It was on Dudley street. If you view the link above where the captial “T” is was where the actual entrance was. Dana street was a side street between the Rivoli and the Church. There was a side exit door on Dana street.Some one would pay the price to get in. Then he would go inside inside and open the door and a half a dozen kids would rush in and scatter through out the theater to hide. Some got found some didnt! This all took place 1950 to about 1955. I was also there as a child when that side door opened up and a half a dozen African Americans came in and jumped a caucasian usher beat him kicked him and stabbed him. I have never even till this day seen that amount of blood on the ground in one place. I have no idea what became of that person. It was rough in those times also. If you have any other questions feel free to ask. I am quite famillier with that area. Ther was also on Washington street heading toward Boston called if I remember corectely the Roxey Theater. Sorry about the blood story but thing like that need to be told less we forget Enjoy!!!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Yes, it is a hobby. Just look over this site and you will come to that conclusion. I did not live in the area, although I worked in the Dudley Sq. area in the late-1960s. I have been interested in theater buildings since I was 10 or 11 years old. The visitors to this website probably range in age from teens/college-age all the way to 70s and 80s. If you have memories of the Rivoli and other theaters in Roxbury and Dorchester, you can post them on this site.

LINESIDES on March 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Once again I will ask this question. I am curious the age of you folks and why the interest in this theater. Did you folks live in this area? Is this a hobby of a sort? Speak to me!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Linesides- by all means, write about what you know of the Rivoli, and also any other neighborhood theaters in Roxbury/Boston. There are Pages like this one for most of them here in Cinema Treasures.

LINESIDES on March 29, 2012 at 11:01 am

I am curious the age of you folks and why the interest in this theather.
I have allot of great memories of this theater that I could share.

MarkB on January 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm

A Boston Globe article reports an armed robbery at the Rivoli 2/21/1960, so it was still open then.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm

MarkB- I’m not sure; the Dudley St. Opera House dated from the 1870s, seated around 700-800 in an auditorium upstairs. After 1920 or so, it functioned mostly as a meeting hall and a dance hall, not as a theater. It’s possible the Hibernians met there, or maybe they had their own hall?? I walked by it once about 1960. Didn’t realize what it was. There was a solid double door with a glass transom above it with “Dudley Street Opera House” printed on the glass.

MarkB on May 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Ron – did the Opera House become Hibernian Hall?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Mark-not-Whitey- thanks for posting the map! It explains a lot. Note also the Dudley Street Opera House nearby. If I remember correctly, the former Dudley St. Baptist Church boy scout told me that he could see the Rivoli projectionist hanging out on a fire escape on the upper rear wall of the theater. The rear wall of the theater was right across from the church property. No wonder he could see him so easily!

MarkB on May 3, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Ron – here’s the Rivoli in 1931. St James st is off the lower left side of the map, blocks away from the Rivoli. You can see that the theater was just across the street from the church, although the entrance was on Dudley st.

View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm

MarkB- I assume that you are looking at one of those fire-insurance maps, such as Sanborn. The MGM Report had 125 Dudley St. as the address, but Bill’s memory was that it was around the corner on Washington St., just south of the Dudley area. Someone told me that when he attended Boy Scout meetings at the Dudley St. Baptist Church in the 1950s that he could see the the Rivoli structure from the church property.

MarkB on April 27, 2011 at 1:50 am

Ron – your informant mis-remembers. The Rivoli was not at St James. The narrow entrance was at 125 Dudley. The building itself was set back from the Dudley buildings, and ran along Dana st, which came out opposite the trolly ramp of the Dudley station. A street runs through the site now. Across Dana was the Dudley st Batist Church, where the police station is now.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm

The Rivoli in Roxbury is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1200 seats, open daily.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 1, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I have been told that the organ from the Rivoli went to the auditorium of the community center at the Dudley Street Baptist Church. The rear of the Rivoli could be seen from the Church property. The church was later demolished and there is now a police station on the site.