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Time was, you could buy Milk Duds and take in a movie in Roslindale Square

Rialto Theater in Roslindale Square

In 1946, Warren Favor snapped this photo from South Street around to Washington Street and the Rialto Theatre.

As you can see, they were showing a twin bill with Miss Susie Slagle's (Joan Caulfield as a student nurse falls in love with a young doctor who contracts a fatal disease) and The Notorious Lone Wolf (former jewel thief has to find the real thief of a diamond he's accused of stealing).

The theater opened in 1915 as the Roslindale Theatre, but had its name changed to the Rialto no later than 1924. It closed in 1973, at a time when lots of other businesses in the square were closing as well. The building was eventually torn down and turned into a municipal parking lot, which in turn was dug up for a new home for the Greater Roslindale Medical and Dental Center.

Aside from the theater, the buildings you can see in the photo are still there. To the theater's left, look for the barber pole advertising what is today the Rialto Barber Shop, which has been cutting hair there for decades - it's the oldest continuously operated business in Roslindale Square. On Washington Street, the building closest to us, is now the home of the Welcome Buddy convenience store. The house-like structure down the street from it houses a sign shop, a hair-braiding salon and one of those places that fixes busted cell phones.

The Mobil station between them eventually was replaced by a Knights of Columbus hall featuring a large granite memorial to Dapper O'Neil, but the hall closed and the memorial was removed.

Update: Chris Lang went and took a photo from the same basic spot:

Same scene in Roslindale Square in 2023.

1946 photo from the BPL's Warren Favor collection. Posted under this Creative Commons license.



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Guessing that's the same Henry's that's been on South St. forever?

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They're over on the other side of the square now (in the block with Checkmate Cafe), I wonder if it's the same place.

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That's what I meant.
I guess I didn't word it too well. Henry's was where you mention when I went to Longfellow school in the 60s.

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George Carlin said that, as they say in coming attractions, and noted, "Look around you. Are there any theaters near you?"
In Rozzie, the closest movie theaters would be the little place in Dedham and the big one at Legacy Place. When the Rialto was is Rozzie, there was a theater near me.
I grew up in Dot. There was two theaters near me. The Park Theater in Field's Corner and the Puritan on Morrissey Blvd right next door to Rainbow Fruit. Way earlier, in Upham's Corner before it closed down for a long time before being refurbished and turned into a performance venue, The Strand Theatre was a movie theater.
George Carlin was right. Look around. There are no theaters "near you."

Voting closed 14

was either the last or the second-last local independent neighborhood movie theatre remaining in Boston. I don't remember which closed last, this one or the Village Cinema on VFW Parkway in West Roxbury.

A few years ago, there was a proposal to reopen the Park as a live stage venue. What happened to that idea?

Voting closed 11

Back in the day the theaters near me were The Morton Theater (Which got blown up during a failed bank robbery) now replaced with a Police Station and the Oriental Theater.

The Oriental had real clouds inside which floated along the twinkling star lit ceiling. The Chinese themed interior re-created such notable Chinese structures as the Street Gate of Tsinanfu and the façade of the Wan Shou Tsu Temple. Most of the decorative plaster was removed from the building by Fred McLennan who installed it in the Orpheum Theatre, Canton, MA, which he renamed New Oriental Theatre. Fred also bought the cloud machine and the twinkling stars effect.

The Oriental did not have quiet as dramatic end as The Morton. The Oriental had been converted into a electrical supply warehouse but it now is a furniture store.

Now the closest theaters near me are the Boston Common, Downton. That's it. Just one, and I have to take two buses to get to it. I could have walked to either of the theaters that were actually near me, once upon a time.

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Also of note, street cars were still running in Roslindale at the time the picture was taken, and you can see the proof in the image.

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Lots of fun and interesting vestiges of a time gone by in the Square.

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And the owner is desperate to return Roslindale to the 1950s if you read anything she posts in local Facebook groups

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Don't let what happened to Centre Strreet JP happen to Roslindale Sq. Replaced with banks and empty storefronts. Although it has already. So much empty street level space now. And empty spaces at street level of JP housing developments since they were built over the past several years. Forest Hills all the way down the street. Vacant or near dead businesses.

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Is the now closed Bank of America branch.

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And the other is a closed national pet chain shop.

That said, it's a national trend. Covid ramped up the lose of small retail and restaurants. National banks want storefronts for branding purposes and because a lot of people still do in-person banking, and national banks have capital to make it happen. It's not unique to Boston. One way the City could tackle this is by loosening the zoning and licensing that makes it easier to open a bank than just about anything in the city.

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The city should limit the density of banks in an area. Banks are actively harmful to a vibrant urban streetscape. Landlords sit on empty spaces hoping for a bank because banks sign long leases and are guaranteed quiet, wealthy clients.

I would rather have more cell phone stores than banks. Hell, PARKING is better than more goddamn banks.

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Well, you can still buy Milk Duds.

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