Publix Theatre

659-65 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02201

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Showing 1 - 25 of 203 comments

DavidZornig on November 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm

1969 photo added credit Christopher C. & 1981 photo added, photo credit Richard Sheehan.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

Yes, as the Gaiety (later, Gayety), it opened in November 1908.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 12, 2013 at 6:10 am

Maybe that’s when it changed its name to ‘Publix’, but it had already been around for decades before 1949.

rivest266 on May 12, 2013 at 6:03 am

This opened on August 19th, 1949.

Tom10 on April 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Woops….sorry Ron. I hadn’t fully figured out how the new format worked and failed to see the button that accesses the earlier comments.

Kind thanks to nvargelis for the link to the images.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

I walked by the site of the Publix yesterday and there finally is some activity there. Looks like site prep for a foundation. They have fenced off the alley which ran along the theater’s right (north) side so that it’s not part of the construction activity.

martybearass on August 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

hey Dick I remember the stuart theater very well!! cheap dbl features (50 cents!) and all the sex ya wanted if sat on the left hand side lol but yes the projection was terrible and anytime new people walked in you had a bright spot on the screen! Still would not have traded that time for anything!!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 2, 2011 at 8:17 am

The posts are not gone. There are 198 comments on this theatre going back to 2004.

Tom10 on August 2, 2011 at 7:57 am

I haven’t visited Cinema Treasures in quite some time. I’m shocked to see the extensive posts that documented the attempts to save this theater are, like the venue itself, gone. Anyway, the Publix Gaiety, had superb acoustics, was located in the Theater District, an area which had at one time had special zoning considerations. Whether or not it could have survived economically as a theater, I don’t know. Its demolition was an architectural loss.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm

The map and street view do not currently show the correct location for this theatre. It should be about ¾ miles south of what the map shows, at the corner of Washington and Lagrange streets.

dick on November 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm

If any one wanted a sleezy theatre they should have gone to the Stuart St theatre. The only movie theatre I ever went to that the Projection Booth had to shoot at such an angle around a pole holding up the booth. The only other theatre I have ever been in that hjad a worse Keystone was The RKO Keiths in downtown D.C. There booth was so high and far away that it shot down a very steep angle.

alberwi on September 29, 2010 at 4:41 am

I remember seeing several movies (rather poor-quality R-rated ones mainly of the B and C grade, but cheap and appealing to a 16/17-year-old)) in the Publix circa 1976-1977. By this time it was really in pretty bad shape, visibly deteriorating due to lack of maintenance. Neverthless, while it was certainly seedy, I never sensed any “danger” there, perhaps because I always assumed that the “raincoat crowd” and others of that ilk were to be found elsewhere in the X-rated joints. Which, I was soon to find out after I turned 18 and went to see a flick at the Pilgrim, was the absolute truth. Suffice it to say that my visit to the Pilgrim lasted only long enough to get one look (an exceedingly brief one) at the Sodom-and-Gomorrah that was the ill-famed men’s room, after which I almost literally ran out of the place.

The Publix, by comparison, was almost sedate. To its credit, it never quite sank to the level of showing X-rated fare.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 30, 2010 at 11:04 am

I went to the Publix many times and never felt any danger in there. But I stopped going around 1968 and am not familiar with it after that. It wasn’t that grungy then. There were fairly large audiences, mostly all male. I never went there at night; always during the day. There were 2 feature films, fairly recent, plus shorts. And the price was well under $1. I don’t think that the area was called the “Combat Zone” until the 1970s when Billinuk was a patron.

Billinuk on June 30, 2010 at 4:10 am

I moved to Boston in 1967 and lived there til I went off to college in 1972. Not knowing anything about “the combat zone” or what was or wasn’t a good section of town or a bad one, I thought nothing of going to the Publix or the Center theatres on a regular basis – 50 or 75 cents admission and it was always a decent double feature. After a couple of years of doing this , I came home one night and my parents who knew where I had been were very upset, they had heard that the Publix was arun down filthy movie theatre with a “bad element”. I told them that it was a bit run down but they had double features and the price was right. They then forbade me to go there again – not explainging why. Of course the next time they had a double feature that I wanted to see I went, but now that they had told me it had a bad element, that was all that I could see – the audience was kind of grungy and the seats were broken and the restrooms had an element of danger. I didn’t feel safe. My rose colored glasses were off. `and while the Center was a rather utilitarian theatre, the Publix and the Paramount were clearly once very classy places fallen on hard times.

nvargelis on March 20, 2010 at 4:48 am

Photographs taken inside the Gaiety Theater (Publix Theatre) just before and during demolition:

View link

please contact me if you would like more information:

nvargelis [at] yahoo . fr

if you have problems with the link, do a search for my user profile “nvargelis” on and go to the set “Gaiety Theater”

maleman on August 7, 2009 at 10:30 am

The city of Boston had some big theatres.Growing up in near by Waltham Mass i can remember taking the T into boston on Saturdays with buddies from school to go to the movies.Those old theatres where so big and so nice.The list is to long to name them all.But i loved getting up Saturday and meeting my buddies and taking the subway in town.I left Waltham Mass and moved to Florida and i came back to live here and i took my frist trip down town Boston.I could not beleave my eyes most of the Theatres are gone.I waish sometimes i never went back to see the places i spent alot of my young life.I guess things change and when you go back.Its not the same.I did go to the Publix theatre many times when i was young.I loved it so big and just a great place to watch a movie.Atleast we can still remember in our mines that we did enjoy The publix and all the theatres that where in the city of Boston Mass.

alberwi on April 22, 2009 at 6:14 am

Just on a historical note, this interesting 1928 map (link pasted below) reveals that a nearby parking lot on Lagrange Street (that lot has been there forever, I can remember it even circa 1976) was once the location of a police station; it certainly would have come in handy during the Combat Zone era! Which leads me to wonder: Can you imagine the kind of nightly festivities that would have taken place in the huge vacant Gaiety demolition site, back in the Zone’s heyday? The mind fairly boggles. Woo-hoo!!!

View link

The main webite for other similar maps is:

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 17, 2009 at 11:18 am

I went by the site of the Publix today and there is still nothing there but a brick-strewn empty lot. The Billboard trade paper of Sept 8, 1906 mentions the Lyceum Theater which was located on this lot and was demolished to make way for the Gayety/Publix. There is a report of the new Fall season in Boston theaters and it says that the Lyceum opened for the season the previous Monday with Bob Manchester’s Vanity Fair Company. There were a variety of vaudeville acts including “The Wang Doodle Four”. A man named Bacheller was the manager, and the report says that there have been “big houses” .

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 20, 2008 at 11:04 am

The Christmas week attraction at the Gayety in Dec. 1921 was the revue “Maids of America” with Bobby Barry on stage. Performances at 210PM and 810PM. On Sat. Dec. 31st, New Years Eve, there were 3 shows at 2PM, 7PM and 930PM.

kencmcintyre on February 2, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Here is a July 2005 op-ed about the issues concerning the theater’s demolition:

mp775 on September 17, 2007 at 9:40 am

Correction to the above: the panel was not filmed.

mp775 on August 29, 2007 at 6:45 am

It is available on DVD at The panel discussion at the Portage will be filmed for inclusion on a 2-disc special edition DVD release in the future.

Tom10 on August 28, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Thanks for posting the screening of this documentary. Will it be available on DVD or shown on PBS?

mp775 on August 28, 2007 at 1:53 pm

The documentary Preserve Me a Seat, chronicling efforts to save the Gayety (as well as the Indian Hills in Omaha, DuPage in Lombard, IL, and Villa in Salt Lake City) will be shown on Friday, September 14 at the Portage Theater in Chicago, IL as part of the “Preserving Palaces” documentary film festival, along with Uptown: Portrait of a Palace. The festival continues Saturday, September 15 with The Wizard of Austin Boulevard, Loew’s Paradise Theatre, and Memoirs of a Movie Palace. A theatre preservation discussion panel will follow the films on Saturday night. For complete information, visit