Amherst Cinema Arts Center

28 Amity Street,
Amherst, MA 01002

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Showing 22 comments

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 27, 2013 at 8:01 am

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Amherst Theatre. There is an exterior photo taken in May 1941 on Main St. The theater was in Good condition, and had been showing MGM product for over 10 years. There were 844 orchestra seats and 300 balcony seats, total: 1,144 seats.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

pomeroy_h
pomeroy_h on March 29, 2012 at 7:32 am

The new Amherst Cinema is great. They show decent movies, the staff is polite, and the space is clean. I like that the theater is in downtown Amherst, not out in the malls. The hand dryers work really well.

Harold Pomeroy

spectrum
spectrum on April 26, 2011 at 8:12 am

In response to Joe Vogel’s question, the backmost part of the original theater (the front part of the auditorium, proscenium and stage area) was widened to the left and right bu quite a bit. Into that area they built the new cinemas. The remainder of the Amherst Cinema was gutted and converted into stores & restaurants.

davcharl
davcharl on November 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I was a concessionaire at Amherst Cinema in the late 70’s. I made and sold the popcorn. Also the candy and soda. We would run weeklong reviews of old film legends. The Reagan week was playing while the guv was visiting his son at Amherst.
There was indeed a near riot when we went from hard core to soft core porn. Lots of requests for extra butter on the popcorn back then.
If the evening was slow, I would trade a big bag of popcorn for a Whole Wheat Pizza, delivered. We both got a good deal.
I miss the old cinema. The Drake, too. Nothing but a bunch of yuppies now. And The Drake is now The Perry.

davcharl
davcharl on November 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I was a concessionaire at Amherst Cinema in the late 70’s. I made and sold the popcorn. Also the candy and soda. We would run weeklong reviews of old film legends. The Reagan week was playing while the guv was visiting his son at Amherst.
There was indeed a near riot when we went from hard core to soft core porn. Lots of requests for extra butter on the popcorn back then.
If the evening was slow, I would trade a big bag of popcorn for a Whole Wheat Pizza, delivered. We both got a good deal.
I miss the old cinema. The Drake, too. Nothing but a bunch of yuppies now. And The Drake is now The Perry.

spectrum
spectrum on May 26, 2009 at 11:06 am

The Kuhn-Riddle page has a nice photo of the main auditorium. Sleek modern decor, black walls with horitontal silver lines and stylish square white lights across the walls. Bright blue stadium-style seating. Large screen, with great sound and projection. Seats about 175 (the other cinemas are around 80 and 45 seats.) Even the smallest one is stadium seating.) The other two screens have the same style decor. Film fare is first run, primarily of the art and foreign film genres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 26, 2007 at 3:51 am

The architects for the renovation, Khun-Riddle Architects, describe the project thusly:

“A multi-use conversion of an unoccupied, 1920s town-center cinema to include a new 3-screen cinema addition, retail, restaurant and office space.”
So this does confirm that the three current auditoriums are in an entirely new wing of the building, while the old theatre has been converted to other uses.

spectrum
spectrum on March 27, 2007 at 7:43 pm

For many years there were two other venues in Amherst showing movies. the Town Hall Auditorium showed movies until 1955 when town offices were built in that space. The ceiling remained intact as attic space and when the 2nd floor rooms were removed in a 1980’s renovation, they were revealed again and restored. Unfortunately they built a new 2nd and third floor in the building and once again, the old ceiling is attic space. The proscenium is sadly gone. This space must have seated close to 1,000.

The other venue was an auditorium built as part of the Jones Library in 1926. That seated about 300 and showed films for many years. In 1968 when the library was renovated, a 2nd floor sliced the auditorium horizontally, with book stacks going into the stagehouse area. The ceilings curved close down over patrons in the new room, curving to the floor on the sides. I believe it was called the Burnett Room.

In the late 80s or rearly 90s the library was renovated again and the floor removed and stage area walled off, and the room restored as the main adult meeting room. The curved deiling still remains but it’s all modern white walls in the room now.

spectrum
spectrum on March 27, 2007 at 7:36 pm

In the 1980s, the Amherst Cinema showed 2nd run films and occasionally oldie double features. Once they had a science fiction movie festival there which became an assignment for one of my UMass classes.

The auditorium was long and narrow with plaster columns running down the sides with ornate corinthian tops and light coves with alternating blue and green lights. I always remember the glowing clock to the left of the screen saying “amherst savings bank” long after the bank was bought out. It was renovated in the early 1980s with new curtains hung on the walls between the pillers. The ceiling had been molded ornate tin like many of the older stores downtown, but in early 1970s a modern dropped ceiling was installed.

In the renovation the main building was gutted and converted into stores and the new cinema center is in the backmost part of the old building extending into a new extension. Haven’t been into the new cinemas yet but the lobby looks well done. I imagine they did a good job with the auditoriums as well. they are different sizes, I believe the largest holds around 400. The retail portion is fully occupied now. I miss the old cinema but, being so long and narrow, there was no practical way to convert it to modern uses.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on December 9, 2006 at 4:24 am

This theatre reopened on November 22, 2006. It now has 3 screens. Article here.

ACAC
ACAC on April 18, 2006 at 8:58 am

The Amherst Cinema Arts Center, Inc. a nonprofit group is building a new three screen movie theater adjacent to the newly renovated Amherst Cinema Building. A local developer remodeled the existing building into shops, offices and restaurant spaces. There is already a coffee house open and the local chamber of commerce moved into the building March 1. The other businesses will be opening and moving in over the few months. The Amherst Cinema Arts Center is hoping to open in Fall 2006. The theater will have 35mm projectors, dolby digital sound and stadium seating, there will also be small stages in each theater for live performances.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 9, 2006 at 7:55 am

The theatre is not listed in the 1927 Film Daily yearbook; what is listed for Amherst MA is the Town Hall, with 795 seats.In the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac, the Amherst Th. is listed under Shea-Chain, Inc. and Affiliates, and is shown as being part of the “Shea Circuit”. It’s not included under Western Massachusetts Theatres. None of this means much, because these industry sources seem to be full of errors !

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 11, 2006 at 7:35 am

I knew someone who, in the mid-1970s, began grad school studies at UMASS, fresh out of the Army. He rented an apartment above the Amherst Theatre on Amity St. He was approached to work part-time in the theatre as a projectionist. He had no background at all, but he was mechanically-inclined. He took the job and loved it! Certainly, the commute was easy ! He quickly learned how to aid flairs of showmanship to his screenings. As a union member, he also got assignments to help mount professional live shows when they came into the area. One memorable night at the Amherst Theatre occured at a Friday midnight show. Ordinarily, hard-core XXX features were shown, but the management must have taken some flack about it, because it was decided to switch to soft-core X. When the rowdy, boisterious audience realized that the change had been made, they got most indignant! For a moment, he feared for his safety and comtemplated leaving the booth and running for his apartment! He worked there for about 2 years. It was an example of how someone with no showbiz background or inclinations at all can sometimes fall into a job in the field.

jph
jph on September 24, 2005 at 5:45 pm

The marquee has now been removed, and new renovations have started on the site.

DBMiller
DBMiller on June 22, 2005 at 10:01 am

Yes, you are correct! I haven’t got a clue why I wrote Hampshire mall theaters (now Cinemark theaters). I must have been sleeping or something.

AlLarkin
AlLarkin on June 21, 2005 at 9:59 am

The theaters at Hampshire Mall were definitely demolished several years ago. Cinemark built on the site and continues to operate them successfully. Donald, are you sure you don’t mean Mountain Farms Mall?

DBMiller
DBMiller on May 10, 2005 at 7:41 pm

They are now renovating. The theater is gutted and most of the seats were sold off to raise money. I bought 2 rows of 4 seats for $20 per row. By the way, the Hampshire Mall was also renovated, not demolished, but the theaters are still vacant and up for lease.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on February 8, 2004 at 6:41 pm

The status that says “Renovating” is wrong. This cinema is set to be demolished (it may already have been demolished). A new cinema and live theatre will be built on its site.

Gregg
Gregg on February 8, 2004 at 4:47 pm

The web site for this theatre can be found at:
http://www.amherststagescreen.org/contact.html

William
William on November 20, 2003 at 1:51 pm

The Amherst Theatre seated 846 people.