Thompson Square Theatre Info?
posted by phaskl on September 29, 2005 at 9:07 am
CHARLESTOWN, MA — Hello Group!
Hoping someone can point me to any information about this theater – history, photos etc.
Have been able to find almost nothing except that the address, 179 Main Street, now seems to be the Branch Public Library, built about 1970. Urban renewal strikes again?
I don’t know anything about it, but have you tried contacting that library branch? They probably have some historical records of the neighborhood, including what preceded them on their site.
Ron: Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll try it. I did send a letter to the Charlestown Historical Society, no response yet. I have just purchased the Marr & Colton pipe organ from this theatre, just trying to fill in it’s background.
It was on the corner of Green & Main, and opened prior to 1920. Information about a lawsuit involving the theatre can be found at View link
It was an EM Loew theatre,and was built into the side of the hill, just like the branch library on the site today. The Elevated railway ran right in front of it. I once saw an aerial photo which showed it down below, and it had a stagehouse. Donald King, author of the recent book on Boston theatres, worked for EM Loew from late-30s to early 50s, and told me that upstairs at that theatre was a storage room for the EM Loew circuit, where you could get items like spare alphabet letters for your marquee, etc.
The Thompson Square Th. was included in the MGM 1941 “Theatre Photograph and Report” project. There is a large selection of these report cards in the THSA archive in IL. The info in these reports is not always accurate, so beware ! This one indicates that the theatre was showing MGM product., that it had 650 seats in the orchestra and 250 seats in the balcony. The photo, which is a Xerox copy, shows that the entrance was at the north end of the building.There were 3 double doors. An upright support for the elevated railway structure comes up from the sidewalk and passes right thru the marquee ! In the storefront to the right of the theatre entrance is what appears to be the
Movie Spa and Grill featuring Croft ale, but I’m not sure of that name. The report indicates the theatre opened about 1915, and that it is a “Nabe”. The front of the marquee proclaims “E.
M. Loew’s Thompson Sq.” while there are 3 rows on the side of the marquee to post the attraction. This small photo unfortunately is the typical washed-out Xeroxed photo, and is hard to make out.
Thanks Ron, I’ve sent them a check for a preliminary search, will post any results. Also, the Acadia Publishing Corp paperback “Images of America – Charlestown” has a photo of some soldiers on a horse cart, with the Thompson Square Theatre in the background. The caption states that it’s after the end of WWII, but the movies on the marquee are “Nice Girl”, with Deanna Durbin, and “Dead Men Tell”, both 1941 movies. I’ve also heard that the locals always called the theatre the “Hippy”
NDSPete- after you receive your additional material, are you planning to create a Page for this theatre in the Theatre files? There isn’t one at present.
Ron: I did just receive the information, and it’s just as Ron Salters describes above. I’d like to find more specific information before creating a page, but may have to go with what I have, if nothing else turns up.
Two photos of the Thompson Square Theatre, along with two photos of the library that replaced it.
A discussion thread about the theatre, at Charlestown Online.
I have added the theatre here.
The theatre has been described to me as nothing fancy, basically a rectangular box, with a balcony, There was no pit for orchestra or the organ, and the stage was raised above floor level. The organ was designed for a single chamber, which was probably up by the proscenium.