Old Howard Casino Theatre

44 Hanover Street,
Scollay Square,
Boston, MA 02108

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Showing 26 - 41 of 41 comments

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 4, 2005 at 8:06 am

Yes, there were 2 seperate theatres, and both showed movies. Both were primarily live Burlesque houses. The Casino was built in 1910 and was designed by Clarence Blackall. It was operated by Charlie Waldron, local Burley producer. He had been affiliated with the Palace Theatre, just across from the Olympia, and also with the Gaiety on Washington Street. The Casino had 2 balconies and boxes on the sidewalls. A unique feature was a staircase right in the middle of the orchestra floor that led down to basement lounges. At the age of 13, a 9th-grade friend and I got into the Casino at a Saturday evening performance. Had to sit in the 1st balcony, as the main floor was full. (the 2nd balcony was permenently closed by that time.) We loved the show. Funny, lowbrow comedy, and beautiful girls. I got into the Casino many times, in spite of being under-age.At the 12 noon show, you could see a 2nd-run movie, plus a stageshow over an hour long, with a 5-piece band in the pit, all for about 65 cents circa 1960. The theatre closed in the spring of 1962 and was demolished that summer. Victim of Urban Ruin-all. The rear portion of the JFK Building is about where it was.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 20, 2005 at 3:09 am

According to Donald C. King’s new book The Theatres of Boston: A Stage and Screen History, Waldron’s Casino opened at 44 Hanover Street on January 3, 1910.

In the fall of 1928, NETOCO briefly leased the Casino, putting in a new Wurlitzer organ and featuring Paramount films and vaudeville.

In June 1958, it was renamed the Old Howard Casino. It closed in 1962 and was demolished to make way for Government Center.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 16, 2005 at 6:37 am

I’ve added a separate listing for the real Old Howard, after determining that movies were indeed shown there.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 15, 2005 at 8:33 am

According to articles in the boston Globe archives, this opened as Waldron’s Casino Theatre in 1910.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 15, 2005 at 7:42 am

According to an article in the Harvard Crimson online archive, the Casino’s last show was Saturday, May 5, 1962.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 15, 2005 at 6:15 am

David’s book, Always Something Doing: A History of Boston’s Infamous Scollay Square, says that the Casino originally presented movies, plays, talent shows, and operas, all in Italian to serve the population of the neighboring North End. Operas shared the stage with burlesque after the owners of the Old Howard bought the Casino in the 1930s. Movies ran from 9 am until noon, followed by the stage shows.

The Casino was apparently one of the later buildings demolished to make way for Government Center. A 1962 photo shows it and its Hanover Street neighbors still standing after Brattle Street and Cornhill had been removed. The John F. Kennedy Federal Building now stands on the site.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 14, 2005 at 9:00 am

On David’s site are these two pages from an Old Howard Athenaeum program (not Old Howard Casino) from February, 1952. Along with the stage shows, it also lists two movies: “It’s a Great Feeling” with Doris Day, and “Montana” with Errol Flynn.

DavidKruh on January 17, 2005 at 9:59 am

For more information on the Old Howard AND on Scollay Square’s other theaters, I invite you all to visit my Scollay Square web site at http://www.joeandnemo.com

David Kruh

Borisbadenov on January 4, 2005 at 7:26 pm

I don’t think movies were ever shown at the Old Howard Atheneum, just the Casino.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 4, 2005 at 10:26 am

This page says that after the city closed down the real Old Howard in 1953, the owners transferred its license to the Casino and renamed it the Old Howard Casino as a way of drawing customers.

So this entry needs to be split into two separate ones — if, that is, movies actually showed at both theatres. Did they?

Borisbadenov on January 3, 2005 at 8:38 pm

We’re talking two separate theaters here. The Old Howard (some call it ‘the Old Howard Atheneum’) , which was at one time a Millerite temple stood on the site that now houses most of the Saltonstall office building. The Old Howard Casino was down from Scollay Sq, on a part of Hanover Street that no longer exists, having been replaced by Boston City Hall. The Old Howard got condemned or something in the late 40s/early 50s, but was not demolished until the late 60s. Ann Corio autographed bricks from this when it was demolished. The Casino was running into the 60s, with performers such as Blaze Star, and showing films; one bizarre film selection was ‘Saint Joan’ w/ Jean Seberg! I never got into the Casino, but a guy that used to sell prizes and refreshments there years later worked as a floor waxer in my building.

Dorothy on December 16, 2004 at 5:13 am

A friend sent me this.. perhaps someone here has the rest of the article- see below ;) Dorothy
also pls ck out:
http://www.burlesquehistory.com (preserving the history!)

ACCORDING TO AN AD IN THE BOSTON HERALD JULY 23, 1946 from my mothers trunk:


The burlesque show at the Old Howard this week stars two old comedians, Harry Conley and Frank Silk. Diane Ross, Patricia Powers, Charlie Harris and ……..
?? The rest is cut out.

IanJudge on November 5, 2004 at 1:46 pm

The Old Howard was originally built as a temple, and was called the Old Howard Athenaeum in its early years. The exterior was gothic looking, like a church.

There was some small controversy about its demolition in the 60’s. There had been a small but not devastating fire there and many people were pushing for a renovation of sorts, but before anything could go forward the city tore the building down rather quickly. This was at the height of urban renewal and not much was considered historic excepting colonial-era structures.

President Kennedy was a regular patron of the Old Howard in his Harvard days (as were many Harvard men).

RobertR on November 5, 2004 at 5:35 am

The movie only played at the deadest time

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 5, 2004 at 5:27 am

Saturday, March 3, 1962, a typical day at the Old Howard, taken from the Boston Record American: film THE RIGHT APPROACH at 9 A.M. Film MAN TRAP at 10:13, 5:14. Stage show: 12:00 2:30, 7:15, 10:00. The stage show for that day featured one Cindy Parker.