Old Howard Casino Theatre

44 Hanover Street,
Scollay Square,
Boston, MA 02108

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DavidZornig on April 15, 2018 at 6:16 pm

April 24, 1957 photo of Hanover Street added, credit MIT Library. Casino blade sign center right.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on August 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm

What a great shot of Hanover St. Yes, everything in the photo is gone today. Despite being a somewhat low-class area, it was a busy place, full of parked cars and pedestrians. I went to shows at the Casino many times.

EdwardFindlay on August 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm

This is a wider shot of the theatre…


the only actual thing left in the shot is the closed off stairway going down to the Blue Line platform that the guy is sitting on- the stairs are still there from the platform but may not be in service as an emergency exit anymore.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

In the Street View photo above, the Casino was located straight ahead in the distance, about where the group of trees are, by the low-rise rear wing of the JFK Federal building. (approximate location).

EdwardFindlay on May 2, 2011 at 8:33 pm

2006 is still a good 45 years after forced relocation…

The smokestacks are gone, but yes that far distance is the same from Congress Street on.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Yes, Jack’s was a popular place and moved to the central bus. district after Scollay Sq. was demolished. Everything in that photo is gone today with the exception of the skyline beyond the Central Artery overhead structure in the distance. The Casino’s vertical sign was already old when that photo was taken.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 2, 2011 at 6:14 am

Jacks' Joke Shop closed in 2006, in the Theatre District.

EdwardFindlay on May 1, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Rick, it’s held on in another location after their forced move so it must be in decent enough demand to survive!

RickB on May 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Yes, I’m sure that the creme de la creme of Boston society regularly visited Jack’s Joke Shop to replenish their supplies of itching powder and fake noses.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm

The photo above was taken during the Casino’s final years when they had a semi-permanent sign on the marquee which read “Follies” in multi-colored letters. You can see what a high-class area this was.

EdwardFindlay on April 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Mid to late 50s shot of the exterior: View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I’m guessing that at some point the theater was renovated and reopened as the “New Nickleodeon.” But it was an old theater which dated from late-19th Century. Please see posting above of Oct 14, 2009.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm

New Nickelodeon is not listed here at CinemaTreasures. Do you know anything more about it? (Was there an ‘Old Nickelodeon’ too?)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

A 1918 Boston street directory lists Waldron’s Casino Theatre at 44 Hanover St. Across the street from the Casino it lists the New Nickleodeon – moving pictures and burlesque, at 51 Hanover St.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 6, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I was surprised to see this ad as late as Oct. 1959. There were a few ads which read “Old Howard Casino” in the mid-1950s. But the tiny ads which I used to look at in the Record-American just said “Casino”. And no one called it by that clumsy moniker. It was just plain “Casino Theatre” to its regular fans. The Casino and the Old Howard were under the same management in the early 1950s. When the Old Howard closed for the summer due to lack of a.c., its poster boards were full of ads for the Casino down the street, which remained open.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on October 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Ron, this Globe movie page from October 1959 (linked from this blog entry) has an ad for the ‘OLD HOWARD CASINO THEATRE’.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 20, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I talked recently with someone who attended shows at the Casino all through the 1950s. Like me, he never heard of the theater being called the “Old Howard Casino”. No one in that era called it by that name. The name may have been formally changed, but the marquee was not changed, nor were the newspaper ads. Everyone I knew called it the “Casino Theater” right up to the end in 1962.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I copied a list of Boston theaters from 2 city directories at the library when I was a kid. In 1895 there was a “Nickleodeon” at 51 Hanover Street which would have been across from the site of the Casino Theatre. In the 1921 listing, it was still there, as the “New Nickleodeon”. In his book about Boston theaters, Donald King says that the “Nickleodeon Musee and Parlor Theatre” opened on December 23, 1894 at 51-53 Hanover Street, utilizing 3 floors.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 2, 2009 at 1:58 pm

NEMike above mentions one of the sleaziest features of attending shows at the Casino or any other burley theater. At intermissions they had a pitchman at the edge of the stage who hawked various things like boxes of candy. He looked like the fast-talking guys selling stuff on late-night TV. He had a crew of “gentlemen” who worked the aisles. They looked like he had recruited them out of a skid-row flop house. I agree with NEMike that very few, if any, boxes ever contained the promised prize. The movies at the Casino, in my opinion, did not suck, they were mostly older second-run movies. As for censorship, I saw some amazing things on stage – not just some very smutty comedy, but young (18, 19) pretty show girls doing complete strips and very erotic dancing. They had colored gels over the follow-spotlight: the more she took off, the darker the gel would get, going from almost white to a dark blue at the end. The drummer got quite a workout during these long strip dances. The Casino did not enforce its age rule, so the place was sometimes full of schoolboys.

NEMike on January 21, 2009 at 11:49 pm

In the 50s, we used to hook school on Mondays and went to the Casino theater. First it was a movie and then the stage show. Monday morning was supposed to be the best show because it was said that the Boston censors didnt get there on Monday mornings becausze a new show started on Mondays and they got there later to censor parts of the show, so we went, allegedly, before they got there.

We saw some great names, Tempest Storm, Princes DoMay, Rose La rose and others.

BTW, the movies sucked as did the scroungy boxes of candy they sold between shows for a quarter, promising a priZe in every box, that we never got.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 20, 2008 at 2:18 pm

As its attraction during Christmas week of 1921, the Casino presented the revue “Hello 1922” on stage. Their ad in the Boston Globe is headed “Waldron’s Casino” with “Waldron’s” in large letters. Their motto was “The House of Big Shows”. There was a note that on New Year’s Eve there would be performances at 7PM and 930PM. In my office in Boston in the 1970s there was an elderly man who worked part-time as an engineering ass’t. He was a show buff and as a youth he had known Charlie Waldron and had attended shows at the Casino many times.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 8, 2006 at 11:52 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Casino Theatre on Hanover St. has an exterior photo dated May 1941. The theatre had an old-fashioned 1920-era marquee. Despite the fact that the Report oddly omits that the Casino is a Burlesque house, it’s obvious from the photo— the two poster cases on each side of the entrance have large photos of semi-undressed strip-tease dancers. Some local wise-guys are milling about at the entrance. The Report states that the Casino is not a MGM customer; that it was built in 1910, that it’s in Fair condition; and has 800 orchestra seats and 500 balcony seats; total: 1,300 seats (not including second balcony and boxes). There is no mention of Burlesque shows in the Casino’s report.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 15, 2006 at 10:38 am

On a Sunday evening in December 1952, I was returning to Boston by train from a weekend in New York with my older brother and his friends. While snacking in the lounge car, I overheard a nattily-dressed middle-aged man at the next table telling a college-age couple at his table that he was an actor heading for the Colonial Theatre in Boston to appear in a play. The next day I noted in the newspaper that there was no play opening that night at the Colonial. Later that week, while attending a matinee at the Casino Theatre, I was amused to see the man up on stage in the comedy sketches. The distinguished thespian was, in fact, a burlesque comic and had been “snowing” the gullible kids on the train.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 21, 2006 at 11:37 am

On this 1928 map, the theatre is shown as WALDRONS CASINO. It’s a half block up Hanover Street from Scollay Square, on the left side of the street. This part of Hanover Street no longer exists.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 10, 2005 at 11:43 am

New England Theatres' leasing of the Casino in 1928 and installing a Wurlitzer organ could explain an oddity inside— The top tier of boxes on both sidewalls had grills over them. I could see that they were dummy boxes and thought that the grills had something to do with ventilation. Now it appears likely that the grills were for the organ. The Casino also had an inside stage door. Possibly the original stage door outside was located in a muddy dark alley. Performers came in through the front entrance, then down the right side aisle, through the right orchestra boxes and then through a door which led into the wings on stage-left. On that side of the stage was the pinrail for the rigging lines. The Casino obviously had a movie screen which was “flown” up out of the way when the stage shows began.