Boston’s Gaiety Theatre Is Being Demolished

posted by Ron Newman on April 26, 2005 at 5:09 am

BOSTON, MA — The battle to save Boston’s Gaiety Theater has been lost. Demolition started earlier this week, on the La Grange Street side. (Some demolition photos, taken Friday, April 22.)

Although the theatre can no longer be saved, litigation is likely to continue on the subject of whether Boston’s Midtown Cultural District zoning requires the developer to build a replacement theatre, or to make a monetary contribution towards restoring some other nearby theatre.

Theaters in this post

Comments (11)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 26, 2005 at 5:46 am

Actually, demolition started last week — on either Tuesday or Wednesday, April 19 or 20.

deleted user
[Deleted] on April 26, 2005 at 2:46 pm

That is sad news. I think it would have made a great performing arts venue. If it had been properly restored?

Doesn’t the city of Boston have a Historic Places Trust?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 27, 2005 at 12:38 pm

Boston has many organizations devoted to historic preservation — Historic New England, Historic Boston, The Bostonian Society, and The Boston Preservation Alliance are four that come to my mind immediately. For reasons I don’t fully understand, none of them decided to step up to the plate to lead a public campaign for this theatre.

Three theatres further up Washington Street — the Paramount, Opera House (aka Savoy, RKO Keith Memorial), and Modern — have gotten much more attention, from both preservation organizations and the city.

The Opera House reopened last year after a lovely restoration job by Clear Channel. Emerson College just announced plans to renovate the Paramount and subdivide it into two live stages. The Modern is in sad shape and remains very much in limbo, but the city prevented its imminent demolition two years ago, seizing it from a neglectful owner by eminent domain.

deleted user
[Deleted] on April 27, 2005 at 4:08 pm

Couldn’t any of those organizations have prevented this demolition?

Good news about the Paramount, Opera House and Modern. Do you have any photo’s of the Opera House? I would like to see them.

Do you have any photo’s of the Gaitey Theatre before it was demolished?


Michael Day

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 27, 2005 at 4:30 pm

Lots of exterior photos are linked from the comments on the Publix Theatre page here at CinemaTreasures. (Publix Theatre was its name from 1949 until it closed in 1983.)

The link to “demolition photos” above actually goes to a discussion forum that has some pre-demolition photos too.

Also take a look at these documents, which contain more photos, a few even of the interior:

View link
View link
View link

I don’t know how long the last two are going to stay around, since the site they’re on belongs to an organization that unsucessfully tried to save the theatre.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 27, 2005 at 4:31 pm

And for photos of the Opera House, past and present, follow the link I posted above to its page here at CinemaTreasures.

deleted user
[Deleted] on May 1, 2005 at 6:08 pm

Judging by the recent photo’s just before the theatre was demolished it looks like it needed alot of money and time to fully restore it.

But in saying that and reading about it’s acostics I think it would have been worth preserving for the future, too late now unfortunatly!

Maybe in the future it could be re-built in a different part of Boston, using the plans. I am working on the assumption that if the Italian’s could have the La Fenice Opera House re-built after a fire that completely destroyed the theatre in 1996 then maybe the Gaiety Theatre could be re-built in the future? I know my comment sounds little opptimistic!
It was just a thought I had.



Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 2, 2005 at 4:50 am

Demolition continues, slowly. Here are some photos taken late Friday afternoon, April 29, including some of the surrounding neighborhood. (Scroll down to “Posted: Sun May 01, 2005”)

No work was going on over the weekend.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 6, 2005 at 7:32 am

From yesterday’s Boston Phoenix:
Showing next Thursday: The Gaietyâ€\s demise

Next Thursday, as part of an Asians in Action fundraiser, Overshadowed: Bostonâ€\s Chinatown gets its public premiere. The three-part documentary was made by a 10-person Emerson College journalism class. The first section of the half-hour film discusses high-rise developments in Chinatown, like the Kensington; the middle tells of the Gaietyâ€\s demise; and the final segment profiles Da Zsong Lei, an aging Chinatown resident facing a 25 percent rent increase that could price him out of his apartment.

The filmmakers were able to shoot footage of the half-wrecked theater, whose missing wall provides a view of the internal performance space that activists thought was worth preserving. “People were just stopping in the street, looking and taking pictures, asking ‘what is that building?â€\” says Kim.

Overshadowed: Bostonâ€\s Chinatown will be shown at an Asians in Action fundraiser, which will include Asian art, food, music, and a charity poker tournament, on May 12, at Tonic, 1316 Comm Ave, in Allston. A $20 suggested donation will go toward a community center in Chinatown. E-mail Anh Nguyen at for more information.

peterwalker450 on May 24, 2005 at 8:22 am

Followed this story from the UK. Looks like you pulled down a fine building which could have been enjoyed by so many, to replace it with a piece of lazy architecture, to be tolerated by the few sad souls who have to live in it.

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