Scenic Temple

348 Meridian Street,
East Boston, MA 02128

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EdwardFindlay on July 31, 2011 at 9:29 am

Here’s a shot of the plaque which includes an old photo of the theatre when it was in use as a Masonic Temple…

EdwardFindlay on May 25, 2011 at 8:55 am

According to the marker on the building(Bostonian Society’s plaquard?), the building was built in 1892 and was for decades the Masonic Temple. This confirms that the building in the linked maps is indeed the same building as theatre being discussed.

The building received a massive renovation in 1975 being turned into an apartment complex. This same renovation demolished the old Masonic Temple interior including the space in which the theatre lay.
The plaque is visible on Goggle Streetview for anyone interested, although it’s unreadable.

EdwardFindlay on May 5, 2011 at 5:10 am

It was back to being “Masonic Hall” by the 1912 map(plate 25):

Link says Charlestown but it’s both Charlestown and East Boston.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 5, 2011 at 4:20 am

Note that in 1901 it was called “Music Hall”.

EdwardFindlay on May 4, 2011 at 3:07 am

Plate 16, a 1901 map of the neighborhood from the Suffolk County Register of Deeds website- the building that housed the theatre.

EdwardFindlay on May 1, 2011 at 7:17 am

The building shows up as a huge apartment complex, and the apartment complex is from that era from the look of wear and brickwork on three sides…It even has a separate entrance in the front that has been bricked over where that address should be- perhaps the theatre wasn’t outright demolished simply renovated out of existence and it’s old space reused for apartments…

EdwardFindlay on April 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Ron, that information about the Austin & Stone is just the tip of the iceberg for Scollay Square information- it’s a gold mine for information about the long gone section of the city including the aforementioned Old Howard among other theatres.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 23, 2011 at 4:59 am

The Bambino Musical site which Ed Findlay linked to above has an interesting copy of the program cover from Nov. 1897 of the Austin and Stone’s Museum in Scollay Square, Boston. The illustration of the exterior may be somewhat exaggerated, as I don’t think it was quite that wide. To the right-rear can be seen the peaked roof of the Old Howard Theatre. Austin & Stone’s was a very popular attraction in its day and contained a theater, either on the ground floor, or upstairs. I believe it had over 400 seats. Early movies may have been presented there, in addition to the Vaude shows, during the places’s final decade, after 1900.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on April 22, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Ron, thanks for the info on the Narrow Gauge ferry.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 22, 2011 at 4:27 am

Yes, there was a Scenic Temple in Revere. But Fred Allen in his book makes it clear that he was talking about this one, in East Boston. It’s possible that he took a trolley from the ferry slip to the theater because he had to lug 2 suitcases with him to work.

EdwardFindlay on April 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm

It’s almost 2/3rds of a mile between Maverick Square and the theatre, “close” but far enough to catch one of the trolleys coming out of the tunnel.

There is a claim that Fred Allen was talking about another place with a similar name, this Scenic Temple was on Revere Beach and from the sound of things it was very close by or next door to the Crescent Garden/Boulevard Theatre

I find the Revere claim a bit dubious- East Boston and Revere Beach are two entirely different kind of locations and audiences…

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 20, 2011 at 3:52 am

Bob- the Narrow Gauge ferry ran from a ferry slip on Atlantic Ave. not far north of South Station. It ran across to the eastern portion of East Boston where you connected from the boat to the trains of the “Narrow Gauge”, the 3-foot-gauge Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn RR. The trains went up to Revere Beach and then on to downtown Lynn, with a branch to Winthrop. Electrified in 1928 and abandoned in 1940. The trains ran frequently except in the wee hours, so could be used to get to theaters. Part of the MBTA’s Blue Line today runs over a portion of the Narrow Gauge.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on April 19, 2011 at 5:06 am

Ron, I would be interested if you could tell us anything about what was the NARROW GAUGE ferry.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 19, 2011 at 3:38 am

Neighborhood theaters like this one, with low admission, were very popular in their day. The comedian Fred Allen in his autobiography relates that he played in small-time vaudeville at the Scenic Temple in 1913. He was trying to establish himself as a performer. He says that there were 3 stage shows a day there: at 230PM, 7PM and 9PM. Since there were only 3 or 4 acts and each act was on stage for only 10 – 15 minutes, the stage show was not very long. Movies were presented between each live show. He lived in Dorchester at the time and he got to the Scenic Temple by riding the East Boston ferry. (Not to be confused with the Narrow Gauge ferry further east). It ran to a ferry slip near Maverick Square. It left from a ferry slip on Atlantic Avenue/ Commercial Street not far to the south of the Coast Guard Station. The service lasted until 1952 and the empty ferry slip remained at least into the 1960s.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 18, 2011 at 6:07 am

It was located on Meridian Street near Eutaw St., not far from Maverick Square. It was listed in the 1918 city directory, but was gone from the 1921 edition. Probably a victim of newer and better theaters. I don’t know the seating capacity.