Cutler Majestic Theatre

219 Tremont Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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MAJESTIC (CUTLER MAJESTIC, SAXON) Theatre; Boston, Massachusetts.

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Architect John Galen Howard designed the building, and architect James M. Wood designed the interior of the 1,897-seat theatre. Originally opened on February 16, 1903 for opera, the Majestic Theatre was converted to vaudeville shows in the 1920’s. Then, in the 1950’s, the Majestic Theatre was changed again, this time to a movies-only schedule. But unfortunately the change to film came with renovations that transformed the lobby and covered up much of John Galen Howard’s Beaux-Arts work.

The theatre continued to show movies until 1983 as the Saxon Theatre under the Sack chain. By then, the theatre, like many others in the area, had begun to deteriorate both in appearance and in programming.

Emerson College purchased the theatre and brought it back to its original Beaux-Arts splendor. In 1989, the first phase of renovations were completed, and in fall of 2003, the second phase of renovations completed. The theatre today is a performing arts center for both Emerson and the community at large. The theatre has again been renamed, the Cutler Majestic Theatre, after donors Ted and Joan Benard-Cutler.

Contributed by Nicole Kindred, Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 59 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Joan Cutler, whose family name is on this theater, passed away a couple weeks ago, age 80.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 23, 2010 at 6:48 pm

The Theatre Historical Society’s Marquee Magazine, 2nd issue of 2010, has a group of articles about William Fox and Fox Theatres written by CT member Barry Goodkin. He relates that on January 6, 1929, William Fox announced that he was planning an office building and a Fox theater at Broadway & 47th Street in New York, plus large Fox theaters (5,000 to 6,000 seats) in Boston, Cleveland, L.A., Pittsburgh, Newark, Baltimore and Chicago. None of these theaters were ever built. The huge Fox Theatre in Boston was to have been built on the east side of Tremont Street, opposite the Majestic Theatre. (I assume it was to be located on either the north corner of LaGrange Street, or the south corner.) It would have been even larger than the Metropolitan/Wang.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 23, 2010 at 6:52 pm

That should be “None of these theaters WAS ever built.” I should point out that my knowledge of where the Boston Fox was to be located is based on hearsay.

whbjr on June 19, 2011 at 4:20 am

Around 1980, this was definitely a dive – Sack owned it, but made no repairs – the men’s bathroom was just plain scary, and I recall attending an afternoon show, sitting in a seat close to the stage, looking up and seeing daylight through a sprinkling of holes in the roof. Films there included such low-brow fare as “Comin' at Ya!” – 3D cinema at its worst. And yet, that’s where I saw “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 70mm.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I’ve found multiple sources saying that the Majestic Theatre itself was designed by Chicago architect J. M. Wood, and that John Galen Howard designed the building exterior. However, I’ve come across an item in the April 18, 1903, issue of American Architect and Architecture which says that while Wood had originally been associated with Howard in the project, he had withdrawn at an early stage.

The text is at this link. Scroll UP a few pages for an exterior photo, then a few more pages for two interior photos of the theater.

At this link is an article from the March 7, 1903, issue of the advertisers' trade supplement of American Architect and Building News. Along with a fairly detailed description, it features an additional two interior photos of the Majestic, and a small exterior photo.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 15, 2012 at 7:00 pm

More details about the huge Fox Theatre that was to have been built in 1929-30 across from the Majestic. It was to have been built on the site of the Hotel Touraine on the southeast corner of Tremont & Boylston streets, including the alley along the east side of the hotel. It would have had over 5,000 seats and a grand foyer in the form of a circular rotunda. Large elevators would take patrons to the upper levels in addition to staircases. It was one of 7 or 8 new Fox theaters planned in various US cities. These plans were crushed by the stock market crash. “Someone Who Was There” thinks that plans for this theater might still exist somewhere. The Hotel Touraine building still stands today.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm

More details about the Fox Theatre across from the Majestic. Its west wall was on Tremont Street, north wall on Boylston St., south wall on LaGrange St. Its east wall, the rear wall of its stage, would have been up against the rear stage wall of the Publix/Gayety Theatre on Washington St. Its main entrance would have been on Boylston near the corner of Tremont; the circular rotunda-style inner foyer would have had doors on Tremont Street, and also behind the grand staircase leading out to LaGrange Street. The Fox would have been the largest movie palace in Boston, with at least 600 more seats than the Met/Wang. Its west wall would have been located diagonally across from the front of the Cutler Majestic.

sweetmel on May 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

I remember that the upper balcony was closed but the lower one wasn’t and, there were rat in the there! One time I was on a date and we put our popcorn barrell down at our feet and within minutes there was a rat digging in to our barrell of popcorn!

rivest266 on May 12, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Saxon announcement from August 26th, 1956 uploaded here.

Bruce Calvert
Bruce Calvert on September 27, 2015 at 11:32 pm

The Majestic was definitely showing films in 1925. I’ve got a herald for THE BIG PARADE (1925) from this theater saying screenings were twice daily (2:30 and 8:30) and all seats were reserved.

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