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 and was showing movies as part of the program by 1923. 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 62 comments)

whbjr on June 18, 2011 at 8:20 pm

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 4:46 am

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Architect and Architecture which says that while Wood had originally been associated with Howard in the project, he had withdrawn at an early stage.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 11:00 am

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 11:36 am

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 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm

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 6:14 am

Saxon announcement from August 26th, 1956 uploaded here.

Bruce Calvert
Bruce Calvert on September 27, 2015 at 3:32 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.

Texas2step on April 30, 2017 at 4:47 pm

The Majestic was showing movies as early as 1923.

DavidZornig on August 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

11/09/65 Boston Globe photo added. Power outage traffic jam.

MSC77 on December 31, 2017 at 8:11 am

There’s a new retrospective article out on “Camelot” which gives an overview of its roadshow run (including mention of its engagement here) and a historian interview.

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