Fine Arts Theatre

80 Norway Street,
Boston, MA 02115

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

zammo on May 27, 2016 at 8:15 am

The last night of the Fine Arts Theatre..

I found this wedged inside a book purchased on ebay.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 28, 2012 at 5:50 am

I noted in my diary on September 28, 1962 (50 years ago today) that I went to a double bill here at the Fine Arts: Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” and Fellini’s “La Strada.” I also noted that they served (complimentary) small cups of Bolivian coffee.

MarkB on July 15, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Also from King’s book: in 1958, Sarah Caldwell, director of the Boston Opera Group, moved in to the refurbished Fine Arts, then the Little Opera House.

MarkB on July 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm

From The Theatres of Boston, by Donald C. King:

In October, 1922, the 656 seat Fine Arts Theatre opened as an upstairs house that was part of the uptown Loew’s State Theatre building with an ‘around the corner’ entrance. It had a small be fully equipped stage, planned as a rehearsal stage. It was Boston’s first art film house, opening with a British import."

Hedda Gabbler opened Oct 22, 1922, put on by the Henry Jewett company. Mr Jewett had run a company at the Toy/Copley sq. theatre in the late teens.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 14, 2010 at 11:18 am

Re: “The bad thing about the information is that it’s usually wrong or incomplete.”

Can you tell us specifically which information now on this page is not correct? Thanks.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 12, 2010 at 3:05 am

from Boxoffice Magazine, April 23, 1938:
Fine Arts Marquee.
BOSTON – A new marquee has been put up at the Fine Arts Theatre. It was designed and executed by Leonard Krasna, assistant manager at the house. He was aided by Edward Cincotti and William Harvey.

peteredgarlane on March 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

The good thing about the Internet is you can get information on practicaly any subject. The bad thing about the information is that it’s usually wrong or incomplete.

The Fine Arts Theater was on 80 Norway Street, off Mass Ave. and it was owned by the Christian Science Church accross the street. The legitimate theater was closed for many years and it was turned into a cinema and operated by Steve Prentoulis in the 60’s and 70’s. This was the guy who made the cinema famous by playing a double feature “art films” twice a week. He also owned and operated The Symphony Cinema 1 & 2 on Hunington Ave. across the street from Symphony Hall.

mdmjcc2 on March 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Do you remember the dates?

Kolak on February 21, 2010 at 3:07 am

Hi, My band, “The New Life” was the last show at the theater. We were part of Al Rubin’s “The Third World Raspberry” psychedelic light show. We played the last two nights. Just thought I’d let you know.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 11, 2008 at 5:15 am

In his book A Life in the 20th Century, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. writes a chapter on what he enjoyed while at Harvard in the 1930s. In this quoted paragraph, he tells of seeing movies at the University Theater in Cambridge and the Fine Arts Theatre in Boston:

“Came the talkies. The University Theater in Harvard Square was a constant refuge. So was George Krasna’s Fine Arts Theater, near Symphony Hall in Boston. Here one saw the great UFA movies from Germany – von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Die Frau im Mond (By Rocket to the Moon, both feeding my fascination with the future, and his powerful and scary M, with Peter Lorre as the child murderer. Here too one saw lighthearted German musicals like Erik Charrell’s Congress Dances and William Thiele’s Die Drei von der Tankstelle, where I acquired an early enthusiasm for the ravishing Lilian Harvey, English by birth but a great favorite in pre-Hitler Germany.”

RonnieD on May 16, 2007 at 7:44 am

I was only in this theater once in the late 1960’s. I remember it being tucked away on Norway Street not far from the Sack Cheri theater complex. The bill use to change weekly I believe and as stated by others, usually more often than not featured a double bill of foreign or “Art” films in the original language with subtitles. If you weren’t looking for it, it was not hard to miss. I remember going in a small door up the stairs and that the seating in the small auditorium was not very comfortable. The bill I went to see was “Never On Sunday” and “Tom Jones”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 11, 2006 at 8:33 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Fine Arts Theatre has an exterior photo dated May 1941. There was a narrow entrance with one pair of doors (maybe 3) with poster cases on either side and a small marquee above.There was a fire escape just above the marquee. The Report states that the theatre is on Norway St., that it features “foreign pictures”, that it is not a MGM customer, that it was built in 1920 (actually, later), that it’s in Good condition, and has about 750 seats, all on one floor.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2006 at 2:41 am

This 1928 map shows the Loew’s State – Fine Arts Theatre complex, occupying most of a city block bounded by Massachusetts Avenue, Astor Street, Bickerstaff Street, and Norway Street.

It looks massive. Besides the two theatres, the map also shows it containing a “BALL ROOM”.

I never saw these buildings, but I’m appalled that the city fathers at the time allowed them to be demolished, especially since they were apparently well-used up to the date of demolition.

IrishHermit on February 6, 2006 at 5:03 pm

I saw Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg and Ken Weaver in the The Fugs in 1966.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 22, 2006 at 7:23 am

There is a small ad for the Fine Arts Theatre in the Boston Post for Wednesday, Feb. 25, 1931. The movie is “Sous les Toits de Paris”, and the ad states that movies are continuous from 1 PM, with admission of 50 cents in the afternoon, and 75 cents in the evening.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 17, 2005 at 8:31 am

I think the reason that the Fine Arts did so well as an art-film house many decades ago was because it was located in an area with many educated people. That entire area was full of them – not so much people with money, but people with a taste for artistic and literary things. I worked at nearby Symphony Hall in the early 1950s as an usher and ticket-taker and it really was a tony area, completely safe at night, too. As for Henry Jewett and his repertory troupe— although they performed in various venues, I don’t think that they would have appeared at both the Fine Arts and the Boston University theaters simultaneously.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 10, 2005 at 2:36 am

As the first Boston art house, the Fine Arts Theatre was sui generis and showed many great films during its pre-war phase. The manager during this fascinating period was George Kaska.

Eisenstein’s silent Ten Days That Shook the World was shown in 1930, around the same time that director Eisenstein spoke at Harvard University. Other Russian films, by Eisenstein and others, were regularly programmed. Eisenstein’s Potemkin and Thunder Over Mexico were screened as was the Russian documentary Soviets on Parade, the Tolstoy-based The Living Corpse, Pudovkin’s Storm Over Asia and the dramatic Professor Mamlock.

René Clair’s A nous la liberté was one of the big successes here during the 1930s and his Sous les toits de Paris also played. Duvivier’s Un carnet de bal made an appearance.

Among the German-language films were Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light, Fritz Lang’s M, Wiener Blut, Beethoven’s Concerto, the Schubertian Zwei Herzen, Lehar’s operetta Friederike, Das Lied vom Leben.

Hedy Lamarr emerged from the water naked in Gustav Machaty’s Ecstasy. The French-Canadian Maria Chapdelaine played here. The British version of Jew Süss (Power) with Conrad Veidt was shown (not the notorious anti-semitic German one by Veit Harlan). Flaherty’s magnificent Man of Aran so pleased Boston audiences that it was brought back with Power on a double bill. Song of the Road, with Scotsman Harry Lauder, also played.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 25, 2005 at 11:41 am

The first art house in nearby Rhode Island was the Modern Theatre, in downtown Providence at 440 Westminster Street. It opened with an “art” policy in February of 1935 and calling itself the Modern Fine Arts Theatre or variations of that name. In an opening week article in the city newspaper. it was reported that the theatre would be modeling itself on the Fine Arts Theatre in Boston and the Westminster and Cameo Theatres in New York. The opening feature was Robert Flaherty’s Man of Aran and it received a glowing review from the local critic who termed it a masterpiece.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 19, 2005 at 4:52 pm

According to Donald C. King’s new book The Theatres of Boston: A Stage and Screen History:

“In October 1922, the 656-seat Fine Arts Theatre opened as an upstairs house that was part of the uptown Loew’s State Theatre Building with an ‘around the corner’ entrance. It had a small but fully equipped stage, planned as a rehearsal hall. It was Boston’s first art film house, opening with a British import.”

In 1956 it became the “Off Broadway Stage”. In 1958, Sarah Caldwell’s opera company moved in, and it became the “Little Opera House”. The opera company moved downstairs in 1960 to the Donnelly Memorial (the former Loew’s State), and this house once again became the “Fine Arts”, showing foreign and art films.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 22, 2005 at 5:20 pm

There’s really nothing left of the blue laws. The last restriction was that liquor stores could not be open on Sunday, and that was repealed a few years ago.

sinclair on March 22, 2005 at 5:17 pm

Got here via a reply to a post re the Orson Welles in Cambridge and its previous name, the Esquire. But, in that quip by meself, I had noted that a relative theater, the Fine Arts, once got raided by the Boston Police when Warhol’s “Chelsea Girls” played there – they not only confiscated the print, but allegedly burned the copy. Having finally seen the movie around 2000 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I can only imagine what propelled them to this ridiculous action. Sort of related story: The licensing commission also enforced a blue law one Sunday at the Ark/Boston Tea Party (1970?)during a show with Three Dog Night headlining (Earth Opera was on stage at the time when the violation was cited) – No Dancing on Sunday. Unbelievable, but true. Is it worse or better in Boston now? I wonder. Do they stil remove bar seats for this blue law menatality?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 25, 2005 at 8:00 am

Ron, I got that piece of info from Warren’s posting on the Loew’s State Theatre (q.v.) I don’t know the history of Jewett Repertory. Perhaps the venues were not used simultaneously but during different periods. I don’t know.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2005 at 6:34 am

Gerald, you wrote that this was originally used for the ‘Jewett Repertory Company’. So was what is now the Boston University Theatre. Why did this stage company need two theatres, so close to each other?

MattDH on February 25, 2005 at 5:54 am

F.Y.I., that mile-long concrete monstrosity (otherwise known as Church Park) was originally planned to be one continuous block from Westland all the way to Boylston with a tower at the corner of Boylston and Mass Ave… I honestly don’t know what they were thinking when they built that thing

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 22, 2005 at 8:46 pm

That section of Norway Street doesn’t exist any longer, having been replaced, along with the Loew’s State Theatre and other buildings, by what seems like a mile-long concrete monstrosity. The Fine Arts was part of the Loew’s State building, with its entrance on Norway Street, but very close to Massachusetts Avenue.