539 Washington Street,
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Previously operated by: Keith-Albee
Previous Names: Academy of Music
One of the largest theaters in America when it opened in 1854, the old Boston Theatre served as a “sister” to the Academy of Music in New York and the Academy of Music in Philadelphia (still open today). For awhile in the 1860s, its name was changed to the Academy of Music.
It presented opera, operetta, ballet, concerts and drama on its large stage. Its ornate auditorium boasted three balconies and spacious foyer areas. In the second half of the 19th Century, it was Boston’s largest and most prestigous theatre. During the 1908-09 season it was taken over by the Keith interests which operated two theatres, the Bijou and Keith’s, just to the south of the Boston Theatre.
They continued to run it as a legit house until about 1914 when, with the advent of full-length feature movies, they converted it into a “road-show” film house. Then it became a “vaude-filmer”, presenting continuous performances of movies and vaudeville. It closed with a gala farewell performance on October 4, 1925.
The Boston Theatre, along with an old fire station adjacent to its north wall, were demolished in the spring of 1926 to make way for the Keith Memorial Theatre (now the Opera House) on the same site.
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