Plaza Theatre

1120 Columbus Avenue,
Roxbury, MA 02120

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rrahim on November 10, 2013 at 6:00 am

My siblings and I use to walk to the Plaza theatre on Saturday mornings for the early shows. We were living on Vernon and Tremont St at the time. It was in the early 1950’s and safe enough for 7, 8 and 9 year olds to walk there by themselves and see a movie unaccompanied. Those were the days!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 12, 2013 at 11:01 am

The 1948 opening was a name change, from Criterion Theatre to Plaza Theatre.

rivest266 on May 12, 2013 at 6:01 am

This opened on August 20th, 1948.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

The map shows very well the blending for one block of Tremont and Columbus. The theater is right where I thought it to be, but now I understand the street numbering scheme much better.

MarkB on May 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Criterion, 1931:

View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Yes, Chuck Schoen pointed out above that the street numbering was complicated in this block. We know from the city directory that there was a Superb Theatre at this address in 1918, but if there was no theater there prior to 1915, then where was the Superb Theatre in Roxbury where Fred Allen performed around 1913?? Was it somewhere else, and if so, what became of it? The people who could give us quick answers to these questions aren’t around anymore, alas.

MarkB on April 26, 2011 at 11:44 pm

The building wasn’t there yet in 1915 – a series of brick buildings preceded it. In 1931, the Criterion was there, on the corner of Texas. The theater faced across to the Roxbury Crossing train station. It was just south of where Tremont met Columbus ave, and actually lined up with Tremont st. On the other corner of Texat st, the building was 1348 Tremont. The Tremont street numbering then skipped over the block the Criterion was in, and picked up where Tremont turned under the railroad tracks towards Mission Hill.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm

The comedian Fred Allen, who grew up in Dorchester, mentions playing at this theater twice, once at an “Amateur Night” show and later as a small-time professional. This was in the 1912-13 period. He says that the name “Superb Theatre” (in Roxbury) was somewhat of a joke; that it was typical of the neighborhood theaters springing up after 1910 as the result of the “motion picture”, that it was a rectangular box with no balcony and a rudimentary shallow platform-stage in front of the movie screen.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

The name was changed from Criterion to Plaza sometime in the post-WW2 era.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

The theater at this address, 1122 Columbus Avenue, is listed as the “Superb Theatre” in the Boston Register and Business Directory, Issue 83, 1918; and as the “Eliot Theatre”, in the same directory, Issue 85, 1921.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 14, 2009 at 10:54 am

Chuck- thanks for your comment above. You obviously have seen the photo in the Arcadia Press book. As one who lived in that neighborhood, do you agree that the Plaza Theater was a new name for the old Criterion ?

JAHChuck on July 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Reference Ron Salterâ€\s comment of 19 Dec. 2008 about Columbus Ave.

The photo of the Plasa taken at Texas St{not shown} looking south along Tremont Street with the street car tracks, was Tremont Street. Columbus Ave. was to the right of the photo with the car heading North into Columbus Ave which equally divided the portion of the street in the photo. {Roxbury, Then and Now Page 90 by Sammarco 2007}. Probably about fifty or so feet from the front of the car was a flat iron type building that divided Columbus Ave and Tremont St. as they both headed North towards downtown at less than a 5 degree angle of separation.

A study of the City directory would clarify the numbering system.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 19, 2008 at 10:38 am

One of the Arcadia Press books about Roxbury has a photo taken in 1948 in Roxbury Crossing. On the left is the Plaza Theater which had a typical post-war movie marquee. I can’t say for certain, but what can be seen of the facade appears to be similar to the Criterion’s facade. The caption says that the Plaza was at the corner of Texas Street, and also says that the photo is of Tremont Street (but the Criterion was on Columbus Avenue).

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 11, 2007 at 7:21 am

In the Boston Post theatre pages for November 1951, there is a listing of American Theatres Corp (ATC) theatres. (ATC was a spin-off from the breakup of the old M&P Theatres circuit). Under “Roxbury Crossing” is listed a Plaza Theatre. I am assuming that “Plaza” was a renaming of the old Criterion Theatre ??

JAHChuck on February 23, 2007 at 11:58 am

I don’t remember the Criterion Theatre(Roxbury Crossing, MA) having a balcony. A Woolworth 5 & 10 was to the right and a small cigar store was to the left. I am seeking a photo.

Chuck Schoen

JAHChuck on February 23, 2007 at 11:57 am

I don’t remember the Criterion Theatre(Roxbury Crossing, MA) having a balcony. A Woolworth 5 & 10 was to the right and a small cigar store was to the left. I am seeking a photo.

Chuck Schoen

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 21, 2007 at 7:44 am

I worked on the land-takings for the Southwest Expressway project circa 1968-70, and there were no active theatres in it, but many old buildings, and this could have been one of them. The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Criterion has an exterior photo dated May 1941. The theatre had an impressive brick facade with 4 fluted pilasters across the front. There was a rectangular marquee with “Criterion” in big letters on the front, and a vertical blade sign above. Next to the theatre on the right appears to be a F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 store. The Report states that the Criterion has been playing MGM product for over 10 years; that it’s over 15 years old and in Poor condition. It had 495 seats on the main floor and 254 in the balcony, total: 749 seats. In the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook, the Criterion is listed as having 800 seats and being open 7 days per week. The Criterion is listed in the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac as being part of M&P Theatres.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 20, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Based on the address, I’m guessing this was torn down in order to clear land for the (never-built) I-95 Southwest Expressway. Anyone know for sure? Roxbury Community College now occupies this site.