The Modern Theatre has played a key role, not only in Boston’s historic Washington Street theater district, but also as an institution that helped establish a link between Massachusetts and Hollywood.

The Adams Gallery at Suffolk University presents an exhibit of old and new photographs, artifacts, video and movie posters that tell the story of The Modern Theatre & the Boston-Hollywood Connection.

The exhibit, to run Aug. 31 through Nov. 30, 2009, follows the rise of the Modern Theatre -- from a warehouse built in the ashes of the Great Boston Fire through its heyday as the first Boston movie theater to show “talkies.”

The Modern Theatre & the Boston-Hollywood Connection describes personalities and business innovations that reverberated all the way to Hollywood. One character key to the theater’s history is original owner Jacob Lourie. He introduced the “talkie” to Boston and came up with the concept of the double-feature – which soon had Hollywood studios churning out B movies to meet demand.

Black-and-white photographs show the Washington Street theater district in its heyday, festooned with signs and lit by neon.

And present-day photos document Suffolk University’s ongoing restoration of the theater’s historic facade, which was taken apart stone by stone for repair and will be rebuilt on site as part of a theater/gallery/residence hall complex.

Video clips from films shot in Boston show that the Hollywood connection endures today, and an oral history video now in production will offer a taste of what entertainment was like in the days before television.

Adams Gallery, 120 Tremont Street, Boston
9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily