RKO Boston Theatre
614 Washington Street,
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Previous Names: Keith-Albee Boston Theatre, RKO Keith-Boston Theatre, Boston Cinerama, Essex Theatre, Star Theatre
News About This Theater
- Apr 1, 2013 — "2001: A Space Odyssey" 45th Anniversary – The Cinerama Engagements
- Jan 26, 2009 — Remembering Cinerama (Part 19: Boston)
Located at the corner of Washington Street and Essex Street. A conversion of the Henry Siegel Co. department store, to the plans of noted theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb. Opened as the Keith-Albee Boston Theatre on October 5, 1925 with Reginald Denny in “California Straight Ahead” & Charlie Chase in “The Caretakers Daughter” plus 6-acts of vaudeville on the stage. It was equipped with a $50,000 Wurlitzer theatre organ which was opened by organists A.D. Richardson (from the Rialto Theatre, New York) and William F. Frank. It had 3,231 seats. The entrance on Washington Street contained the mirrored lobby which contained Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers and there was a second entrance on Essex Street. In 1928 it was renamed RKO Keith-Boston Theatre. This house still ran combo live shows and movies through the mid-1940’s attracting stars such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, the Ink Spots, the Andrews Sisters, Abbott & Costello and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
Cinerama came in Christmas week of 1953 and stayed until around 1969. They sealed off balcony with a foot of cement and twinned the downstairs using the Essex Street entrance, running Asian/Chinese Kung Fu films as the Essex Theatre, and porn as the Star Theatre until at least 1986. Today part of the Washington Street entrance is a subway entrance. The office building surrounding the theatre is occupied by the city. The auditorium was used as a warehouse, but currently sits unused.
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