Jamaica Theatre

413 Centre Street,
Boston, MA 02130

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 6, 2015 at 9:50 pm

While I think that the 1921 project described in my previous comment was most likely the Jamaica, there was project for a 1,200 seat house at Centre and Perkins Streets in 1915 for the Hyde Square Theatre Company. It was still in the design stage according to the March 27 issue of The American Contractor, so perhaps the bids were too high and it remained unbuilt. MarkB’s insurance map shows that the Jamaica was down the block at the corner Barbara Street, in any case.

MarkB on August 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I just added a fire insurance map that shows the location of the building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Given the size, age, name, and location of the Jamaica Theatre, it must be the theater that the January 15, 1921, issue of The American Contractor said was then under construction:

“Theater (M. P.): 2 sty. 120x83. Hyde Sq. Jamaica Plain. Archt. Wm. Dykeman, 120 Tremont st. Owner Jamaica Amusement Co., Fred'k Greene, 37 Tremont st. Fdn. let to Jos. Imhof, 6 Ashley St., Jamaica Plain. Work started.”

MarkB on January 31, 2012 at 10:42 pm

The Egleston and the Jamaica theatres were both advertised under the M&P banner in the Boston Globe They sometimes ran the same films at the same time

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 23, 2008 at 10:44 am

Mark-not-Whitey – enjoyed your blog, the theater ads and the little site maps are very helpful. I will be going back there to read more of the trains and trolleys info. Please see if you can locate the “Eggie” on a map; it was right below the El structure somewhere in Egleston Square.

MarkB on November 22, 2008 at 4:07 pm


This article is from my blog. It includes the Jamaica, the Strand and the Madison.

View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 22, 2008 at 10:55 am

Thanks for the info, MarkB. Please post anything you can find out about these neighborhood theaters in JP and surrounding areas. There is very little posted about them here in Cinema Treasures.

MarkB on November 21, 2008 at 9:43 pm

The Jamaica Theatre was at the site of the present Hi-Lo supermarket parking lot, at the corner of Centre and Barbara streets.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 23, 2008 at 11:54 am

Thanks Bob D. How about posting your memories directly on the pages for the Madison and the Egleston -anything and everything you can remember. There is very little posted there so far, especially for the Madison.

bobbyfran on February 22, 2008 at 2:04 pm

The Egleston theatre was a bit more subdued as far as kiddie behavior. As I now look back at those days in the early 1950s, Mr Sweeney at the Jamaica Theatre tolerated quite a bit, within reason. The Egleston manager did not. As I recall, the Egleston ticket prices were higher than the Jamaica.

I draw a blank as far as the Strand goes but will ask my sister.

The Madison was the craziest movie theatre around. In fact, our knickname for it was “The Spitbox”!! I’ve seen kids get up and walk on the stage in front of the screen. I once saw someone throw a knife at the screen and then go up and retrieve it by pulling it out of whatever the backing for the screen was. I forget the managers name. He was small in stature but a real, no nonsense, tough guy. If he could catch the offender, they were thrown out the door bodily. No lawsuits in those days. I have to admit that I didn’t go to movies too often at the Madison.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 22, 2008 at 10:37 am

By the way, Bob D., if you want to read amusing descriptions of attending kiddie matinees in the 1940s-50s, go to the page for the Dorchester Theatre in Boston, and the Rialto Theatre in Lowell MA. Also, do you know anything about the other movie theaters in Jamaica Plain listed here in Cinema Treasures? – the Egleston, the Madison and the Strand. If so, please write any comments on those pages.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 22, 2008 at 10:29 am

OK, thanks. As mentioned above, I worked in JP from 1970-75 and was often in “downtown” JP along Centre St. and never noticed even a trace of any theatre buildings there. But, of course, I didn’t know where to look !

bobbyfran on February 21, 2008 at 1:42 pm

If you’re familiar with Jamaica Plain, the Jamaica theatre was on the odd numbered side of Centre St just a half block past Hyde Square going towards the intersection of Centre St and South Huntington Ave.

I also wish I had been able to afford a camera and film in those days. Pictures from that era would be priceless to me now.

If you’re not aware of it and you’re interested in early JP, try the Jamaica Plain Historical Society web site.Lots of good info with many old photos.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 21, 2008 at 11:37 am

I long for those days, too! “If a film was dull or romantic, the kids' noise level would get so high you couldn’t hear the film.” How true! I attended many a kid matinee in those days, although not at the Jamaica Theatre. Where along Centre St. in JP was the Jamaica Th. located ?

bobbyfran on January 18, 2008 at 1:31 pm

I used to see movies at the Jamaica theatre during the early 1950s. At that time they showed two feature films which would run Sunday to Tuesday with another double feature shown Wednesday to Saturday. Saturday’s matinee was for kids. If a film was dull or romantic, the kid’s noise level would get so high you couldn’t hear the film.

A typical showing would begin with a black & white Pathe News Reel (TV was in its infancy) followed by the 1st feature film. Next was a cartoon or two and coming attractions. Then came the 2nd feature film.

Under the age of 16, the cost of admission was 15 cents. Popcorn was 5 cents a box. For a quarter you got to see two movies, news, cartoons and enough left over for two boxes of popcorn. The owner was a gentleman by the name of Sweeney. During those Saturday matinees, he had the patience of a Saint. I long for those days.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 28, 2007 at 7:16 am

The Jamaica Theatre in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston was included in the MGM Theatre Photograph and Report project. There is an exterior photo dated April 1941. The entrance was at the right end of a large brick building. It had a small triangular marquee with the M&P logo at the apex and “Jamaica” in big letters at the top of each side. Attraction was “Footsteps in the Dark”. There were narrow poster cases on each side of the entrance and a fire excape landing directly above the marquee. The Report states that the Jamaica was at 413 Center St., had been showing MGM films for over 10 years; was over 15 years old, in Fair condition, and had 1164 seats on the orchestra floor and 774 in the balcony; total: 1,938 seats. The Jamaica Theatre is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1200 seats and being open 7 days per week. When I worked in “J.P.” in the early 1970s, there was no apparent trace of any movie theatres along Center St.