Scenic Temple

40 Second Street,
Chelsea, MA 02150

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Located on the corner of Second Street and Chestnut Street, the building underwent several names over the years and was a converted meeting hall used to show silent movies and stage vaudeville productions.

Barely escaping flames the building would play a key role in Chelsea’s history serving as a makeshift relief station and church after the Great Chelsea Fire of 1908.

Owned for years by the City of Chelsea building was closed as a movie and vaudeville by 1914. Torn down at some point, site is now a gas station.

Contributed by Edward Findlay

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm

This theater in Chelsea is yet another of the early movie theaters in Massachusetts (and at least one in Rhode Island) named “Scenic Temple”. I wonder if these were all affiliated with one another. I always assumed that they were film theaters, but many of them also featured small-time vaudeville acts on stage.

EdFindlay on May 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I assmume they were all affiliated in some form or another…I think one or more were operated by the same person according to the Massachusetts Metropolitan Polce report(s) from the 1910s.

The way I see it is that they went from vaudeville to movies and vaudeville then either went out of business when the larger neighborhood theatres opened or were reverted back to their original uses as gathering halls.

This seems to be the case with this theatre, I found reference to it being the Odd Fellows Hall and operating as a hall since 1874 at least…the Odd Fellows opened a new hall a block and a half away in Chelsea Square in 1906.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Yes, some of them seem not to have very long lives under the “Scenic Temple” name. And another hallmark of the Scenic Temples was that they all seem to have been constructed as a renovation of an existing building, and not as new construction.

EdwardFindlay on May 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Just followed the trend set by the first big vaudeville theatre: the Bijou

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Which Bijou? in Chelsea?

EdwardFindlay on May 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm

The one on Washington Street in Boston, which was converted from a preexisting building…

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