Franklin Theatre

343 Chestnut Street,
Springfield, MA 01104

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Additional Info

Previous Names: New Franklin Theatre

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The Franklin Theatre was a discount, third tier movie house that struggled to find its audience. It was the second Franklin Theater in town - the first being a short-lived silent venue in the early-1910’s. The sound-era Franklin Theatre was housed in a building that once was used as storage by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company or A&P at 341-345 Chestnut Street.

The theatre missed Ben Franklin’s birthday and instead opened on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1929. The opening films were Clara Bow in “The Fleet’s In” and Thomas Meighan in “The Mating Call”. Both films were silent and Raymond Call’s Orchestra provided the live music. By 1931, the theatre transitioned to sound film but specialized in non-fiction films in addition to double features of second-run Hollywood features. In 1932, an illegal crap game was discovered in the theatre’s rear that led to a murder and discontinuation of gambling.

The theatre scuffled through a 10-year existence before closing with Sigrid Gurie in “Forgotten Woman” supported by Zane Grey’s “Heritage of the Desert” and a Three Stooges short. Hoping to recoup back taxes, the city auctioned off the theatre on March 17, 1940 After sitting vacant for six years, the city gave the property to the Girls Club of Springfield. The new club building was dedicated in 1954.

In 1965, the building was sold by the city for urban renewal as the Department of Public Works wanted to build an onramp to Interstate 291 and subsequently demolished the building. The Girls Club moved to a new building at 100 Acorn Street.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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