... a transition: Theater, skating rink, now a bank
This is a photo from the parking lot behind the Police Station, looking
east. While not a particularly attractive picture, it does serve to spark
memories of what used-to-be. That building with all the windows is our
subject for today's article.
This obviously is NOT the most beautiful photo of Melrose -- but it does
point out the history of an important place.
It is a picture of a movie theater. Well, it WAS a movie house back in the
thirties and forties. It was a time when television was invented, then swept
the world with black-and-white very small screens. It put the Melrose
Theater out of business. Therefore, if you wanted to see a movie, one had
to go to Malden, to the Granada or the Strand on Pleasant Street --
It had a huge marquis extemding over the street and sidewalk, all glittery with lights, that said "Melrose Theater". The cost of seeing a new movie was measured in cents, not dollars.
And Editor Kay McCarte offers a point of interest: "Did you know that former Mayor Jim Milano filled in sometimes for the piano player during the silent movie films?"
The building became, of all things, in the 1950s, an indoor skating rink, produced by a couple of former MHS athletes -- but that too had a very short life. Like the
theater before it, the indoor rink just didn't attract enough visitors.
As we recall, the building sat unused -- other than for a few small
businesses that rented rooms on the upper floors. And finally, when there
was a great upset in the local banking business -- the Melrose Savings
Bank was sold, the Melrose Trust Company was sold -- and new financial
firms moved in.
Stringer Joe Sullivan added "that the local VFW, the Lt. Norman Prince Post used the theater as it's quarters before moving across the street. --- "across the street" was where the A&P market was, before 1950.
And thus the old Theatre/skating rink/office space building was transformed into yet another, different occupation: It became the Melrose branch of the Eastern Savings Bank, which under-went a radical modernization just this past spring.
There are still four major banks in downtown business area, now, but the
old Melrose Theater is gone, the Skating Rink has passed, there is scant
office space used there, but there is a lovely, obviously profitable bank
So much for history.
September 4, 2015