Central Square Theatre

573 Massachusetts Avenue,
Cambridge, MA 02139

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jwpeelman50 on December 31, 2016 at 2:41 pm

It all ended in 1964, but the Somerville theatre still exists in Davis Square. The ran the same movies one week before.

jwpeelman50 on December 31, 2016 at 2:38 pm

It’s nice to know all sorts of facts like about Nathan Gordon building it and from 1919 with MOVIES, nit theatrical acts, though I did see Bozo the clown there one day…and Klank the tin can man.

rivest266 on May 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm

This opened on March 17th, 1919.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 5, 2008 at 7:09 am

A June 14, 1927 piece in the Harvard Crimson reported the showing of screen tests at the Central Square Theatre for Harvard students with Hollywood aspirations.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 16, 2007 at 7:40 am

Another Central Square Theater (this time spelled “-er”) will open next spring at 450 Massachusetts Avenue. It will be home to the Nora Theatre Company and the Underground Railway Theater company.

This one is for live performance, not movies, and it’s on the opposite side of Mass. Ave. from the previous two Central Square theatres. But it will be nice to see the name ‘Central Square’ used once again for a theater.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 10, 2007 at 12:30 pm

This 1930 map shows the “CENTRAL SQ. THEATRE”. Look near the left edge of the map, on the right (east) side of Massachusetts Avenue, just above (north of) Norfolk Street.

rnoyes on December 10, 2007 at 9:53 am

Thank you for the clarification and identification! Great to know this indeed was advertising the theater at the corner of Mass Ave and Norfolk.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 10, 2007 at 8:25 am

Yes, it’s this theatre. Nathan Gordon built it, then most of his theatres eventually ended up in Paramount/Publix, then Mullin and Pinanski (M&P).

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 10, 2007 at 7:31 am

The 1941 edition of Film Daily Yearbook lists the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA as being operated by M.& P. Theaters of Boston

rnoyes on December 10, 2007 at 5:52 am

(Yes, I meant trulye. I’m apparently channelling the ghost of Samuel Pepys here.)

rnoyes on December 10, 2007 at 5:49 am

They’re currently renovating one of the stores on Mass Ave (between Central Kitchen and the Blockbuster Video) and have uncovered what must’ve been an external wall at one point. And on this wall is a trulye awesome ghost ad for one of the Central Square Theatres.

I’m not sure which of the three theaters in Central Square was part of the M&P circuit, though.

Anyway, if you’re in the area go see the ghost ad while you can, as I’m sure it won’t be part of the new store’s interior design. I really hope they cover it over again as it must’ve been before, and not tear it down. It’s actually affixed to the brick and not in a frame.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 11, 2007 at 7:29 am

The Boston Post for Feb. 25, 1931 has a listing of Paramount-Publix theatres on its entertainment page. The entry for the Central Square Theatre in Cambridge lists two current films, “Royal Family of Broadway” and “Under Suspicion” plus Jimmy Gallagher on stage.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 28, 2006 at 7:32 am

OK- I will look in one other source first and then add the Olympia. One correction to the info above: it was showing MGM product.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 28, 2006 at 7:23 am

Thanks. Can you add a page for it at CinemaTreasures, based on the information you have in that book?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 28, 2006 at 7:08 am

Ron- there is a MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Olympia Theater in Cambridge, on River St. The photo was taken in April 1941. It’s an odd, narrow, probably triangular building which would fit on the lot in the 1916 map posted above. It had 400 seats on the main floor, and 200 in the balcony. It was over 15 years old in 1941, was not showing MGM product and was in Poor condition. The marquee is at what appears to be the narrow end of the building. The structure is about 4 stories high and quite impressive. Because the photo is of poor quality, I can’t read the marquee, but it says “Continuous” (showings).

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 27, 2006 at 8:43 am

This 1916 map shows an ‘OLYMPIA THEATRE’ in the narrow triangle bounded by Western Avenue, River Street, and Franklin Street. I don’t know anything more about this theatre, such as whether it ever showed movies.

When I arrived in Cambridge in 1975, this site contained a gas station. I think the gas station was demolished some time in the 1990s, and replaced by the current not-very-useful green space.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 27, 2006 at 8:18 am

The exterior photo of the Central Sq. Theatre printed in the Area 4 Neighborhood Newsletter posted above looks like it was taken at about the same period as the photo which appears in the MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form. That photo was made in April 1941. The Report lists the address as 573 Mass. Ave. The Report states that the theatre has beeen playing MGM product for over 10 years; that it is over 15 years old; that it is in Fair condition; and has 1870 seats on the main floor and 253 in the balcony, total: 2,123 seats.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 27, 2006 at 7:57 am

Page 6 of this Area 4 neighborhood newsletter has an article about this theatre, including pictures of the exterior and interior.

It opened in 1919 and was located at 571-575 Massachusetts Avenue. It was also called Gordon’s Central Square Theatre.

From the article:
“Gordon’s Central Square Theater, at one time one of three theaters in Central Square, took three years to construct. Designed as a vaudeville house, it contained a stage, an orchestra pit, an organ, dressing rooms, and a flytower for scenery, as well as a movie screen. The theater ran back to Bishop Allen
Drive and Norfolk Street, and was a major Central Square landmark until about 1960 when it was taken down to build the present public parking lot.

“The building that now houses Libby’s Liquors and the Shalimar Indian market
originally contained the theater lobby. The introduction of a marquee in 1927 and later storefront alterations obscured the entire facade below the second floor window sills. With assistance from the Historical Commission under a grant from the Community Development Department to upgrade storefronts on Massachusetts Avenue, a portion of the original facade was restored.”

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 30, 2004 at 5:33 pm

This opened as Gordon’s Central Square Theater in c.1924. The architects were Mowll & Rand and a seating capacity of 2,121 was given in 1941. By 1950 this had been reduced to 1,800.

IanJudge on May 1, 2004 at 10:24 am

The former lobby of this theatre is still there – it is a liquor store, I believe. The auditorium is now a parking lot.