Hub Theatre

1140 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02118

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Showing 1 - 25 of 35 comments

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 21, 2013 at 10:53 am

Suga- if you click on “All Comments” above and read thru the various comments in the past you will find some references to photos, but there really aren’t very many good photos of the original 1850s building which became the theater. You might be able to find photos of the current building at the Bostonian Society, or the BPL photo collection, or the Boston Landmarks Commission collection, etc.

Suga on March 21, 2013 at 8:39 am

Hi I live in the Hub Building and am looking for cool old historical pictures that I can use for a wall I want to create dedicated to this building. Can anyone point me in the right direction to find quality prints that I can blow up? This site was a great find that I stumbled across in my quest for old pictures . Thanks!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

Ron Newman- I’m flying on memory here, but I’m guess ing it closed sometime in the mid-1910s. Fred Allen played there in the vaudeville portion of a movie-vaudeville show around 1913; and the Hub Cigar company was there circa-1918. MarkB mentions above that there is no theater name for the listing in 1917. The building dated back to at least the 1850s, with Williams Market on the ground floor and Williams Hall above.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm

When did this close?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

MarkB- I didn’t realize that Williams Market retained ownership of the building. Originally, the market was on the ground floor with a meeting hall above. The hall was converted to a small theater. The market closed in the 1880s, then its space became a “museum” with theater above. Still later, the entire building was converted into an enlarged theater. Apparently, Williams Market retained ownership thru all these changes.

MarkB on February 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm

The Hub is listed as the Williams Market in 1873. It was owned or run by the Kittredge family – one of whom lived on Fort Hill in Roxbury – they’re restoring the house now. In 1883, it’s the Windsor Theatre, Williams Market, Proprietors. In 1902, it’s the Grand Theatre, prop. Williams Market. 1908, Hub Theatre, 1917, no theatre name on the property. So it seems as if it was either both a theatre and a market, or else the ‘Williams Market’ name was just the landlord’s DBA.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

The link worked this time (the first time I just got Bill Noonan’s home page), but the photo (#26 of 209 in the Real Old Days collection) is the same one: a great shot, taken before the el was constructed, of a fire dept. ladder wagon in front of the Grand Opera House. The building to the left is not the Hub Theatre, which was a few buildings up to the north. The two theaters were not side-by-side.

EdwardFindlay on September 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm

cut/paste the link, it’s a direct link to a large view of the photo…the one on page three is another theatre.

It’s definately part of the Hub in the far left, the entrance there leads to one of the first floor stores and just out of view above would be the decorative brickwork

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

The link didn’t work for me, so I went to the website and found on page 3 of the “Real Old Days” collection a nice shot of the Grand Opera House on Washington St. with a horse-drawn fire engine passing in front of it. This big theater was a few buildings to the south of the Hub Theatre.

EdwardFindlay on August 27, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Partial view of the building taken roughly 1898/1899:

EdwardFindlay on May 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I am not sure about anything else in the photo but the lack of a stairway across the street from the theatre is the giveaway that it’s pre-opening…great eye Ron.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

Regarding the Page 76 photo of the Grand Opera House, I don’t think that the building on its left on the left edge of the photo is the Hub Theatre (too close – Ed, check out the atlas map you linked to above on April 22- there were several buildings seperating the Hub from the Grand O.H.) I think that the Page 82 photo was taken right about the time of the el construction in 1901 because you can see wood forms up on the el structure and there are NO staircases to get up to the Dover St. station. It’s nice that this Arcadia book does have some theater photos, because some of them don’t. On Page 77 of this book there is a neat photo of the Columbia during its final years looking the way I remember it.

EdwardFindlay on May 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Arcadia’s book is online as of this evening Mr. Salters…

Page 76, the Grand Opera House in the flesh…and barely visible two buildings down is the side of the Hub Theatre(no clue what it was at the time).

Page 78 shows the picture Mr. Salters was talking about and I mentioned before, the front stairs to the theatre. I thought it was later but it is clearly pre-1900.

Page 82 bottom picture: I referred to this before but there is a picture of the corner of the theatre when it was called “New Grand”

EdwardFindlay on May 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Arcadia’s may have been later than 1895, it had the El in the way so only the front entrance below the tracks was able to be shown.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 3, 2011 at 10:52 am

Ed, the one I mentioned is not a photo, but a drawing and showed more of the building than the 2 close-in photos from about 1895 in the Arcadia South End book. Wish I could remember where I saw it (not on line).
There was another Hub Theatre on Washington Street for awhile in the late-1930s. The Park Theatre, later the Trans Lux, and still later, the State, was renamed Hub Theatre after Minsky Burlesque moved out, and before it was taken over by Trans Lux. They could use the name “Hub” because this theater had been closed.

EdwardFindlay on May 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I saw the shot with the steps taken from across the street, that one is in the Arcadia Boston’s South End book…

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

Yes, the building which is there today and can be seen on the Google street view looks “old”. Most of what I know about the Hub Theatre I learned from the Donald King Boston theaters book, plus old King’s Handbook of Boston from 1881 and 1886, plus a little more here and there. Somewhere I saw a drawing of the Hub made from diagonally across the intersection before the “el” was built. It was about 3 to 4 stories high, and pretty plain looking without many windows on the side. There were a few steps up from the sidewalk to the front doors.

EdwardFindlay on May 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I thought maybe it was the mansard roof building but the platform shot nailed it…whoever built the new building sure went to great length to make it look like it was there all along.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 1, 2011 at 10:59 am

I forgot all about this book; the photos are in Chapter 5. Arcadia published it in 1998: author is Anthony Sammarco. It has 2 shots of the Columbia Theatre also; plus another shot which shows just a little of the Hub Theatre’s sign when it was the New Grand, and the el was under construction (page 82).

EdwardFindlay on April 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Also from Arcadia is “Boston’s South End” which has front door/marquee view and a side corner view of the theatre…it also had a shot of the Grand Opera House as well as the three other South End theatres(Puritan, Castle Sq., and National).

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

The captions in the Arcadia book mentioned above point out that cigar-making was a Boston industry in those days and that there were cigar factories in the area of the Hub Theatre. Indeed, after the theater closed, the premises was occupied by the Hub Cigar Co. Also in one of the photos, directly across Washington St. from the Hub Theatre there was a branch store of the Henry Siegel Co. This is the same retailer which went into the RKO Boston Theatre building when it opened downtown, further north on Washington Street.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

On pages 102-103 of the Arcadia Publishing book “When Boston Rode the El” by Cheney & Sammarco, 2000, there are photos in which the Hub Theatre facade can be seen. The photos date from Sept and Dec. 1912 and were taken on behalf of the transit company which ran the elevated railway on Washington Street. In mid-1912, the platform arrangement was changed at the Dover Street Station, from a center platform to two side platforms with the 2 tracks in the middle. People on the trains and platforms could easily see the upper half of the Hub Theatre. It was about 4 stories high and had a heavy cornice at the edge of the roof. There were 3 tall arched windows in the facade, with a small circular window over the center one.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

Ed- you can see the problem with having 2 theaters so close together with similar names: patrons with tickets in hand rushing in to make the start of the show, only coming into the wrong theater!

EdwardFindlay on April 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Ron I thought it was the same place, I missed the single most important word in the description: “almost”. It said “almost at the corner of Dover and Washington Streets”…I didn’t see the “almost” before.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 24, 2011 at 8:26 am

Ron- I don’t know if the Grand Opera House ever showed movies; if I can find that out, I can easily create a page for it here.
One reason that Stair & Wilbur changed the name of the Grand Theatre to the Hub Theatre in 1903 was probably because of the confusion of having 2 theaters so close to one another with very similar names: Grand Theatre and Grand Opera House. (Wilbur is the same person as in today’s Wilbur Theatre on Tremont St.)
The Grand Opera House ended its days as a wrestling venue (probably had boxing, too) in the 1930s. Neither the Grand Opera House or the Hub Theatre was listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook.