Liberty Theatre

Ayer, MA 01432

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Liberty Theatre ... Ayer Massachusetts

In Ayer, the Liberty Theatre was a war department movie theatre located on Camp Devens which was established in 1917. Listed in the 1941 edition of Film Daily Yearbook as being booked by the Eastern District Office, 904 RKO Building, Rockefeller Center, NYC.

The area is now referred to as Fort Devens or simply Devens.

Contributed by Billy Holcomb / Don Lewis / Billy Smith

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 9, 2009 at 11:06 am

I went to the movies often at Fort Devens in the late 1950s. There was only one movie theater and I think it was called simply “the post theater”. It was located near the front gate, and was a free-standing building. It had a sloping floor but no balcony. There was also a stage with curtains, but I don’t think that it had a prominent stage-house like the Liberty photo posted by Don Lewis. So I can’t say if it was the same theater or not. However, it was built to a common design – many of these Army post theaters looked exactly alike ! The one at Ft. Devens featured regular movies like any other commercial movie theater, with a change of bill in mid-week if I remember correctly.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 14, 2009 at 11:11 am

Here is where the post theater was located at Fort Devens in the 1950s: if you stood with your back to the main gate you would see a large green area, the parade ground, in front of you. Beyond it in the distance was a row of brick buildings. The theater was to your far left, and back aways, with its front facing away from you. The main gate was on a local road, about a mile from downtown Ayer. I have no idea what is there today.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 12, 2009 at 10:32 am

The 1927 Film Daily Yearbook lists 3 movie venues in Ayer- the Strand Theatre with 745 seats, open 7 days per week; the YMCA auditorium, 600 seats, open 6 days per week; and “Camp Devens” cinema, no information listed.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

The Theatre Historical Society archive in Illinois has a MGM Theatre Report for a “College Theatre, Ayer,Mass.” No one filled out the report, so there is no info. Probably dates from the 1940s. There is a photo marked “War Department Theatre, Fort Devens.” The rather nice theater in this photo does not look anything like the Liberty Theatre photo from the Billy Holcomb collection, and it doesn’t look anything like the post theater I recall from 1957-1966. So it’s a mystery. Why would the Army call it the “College Theatre” ? There were military schools for soldiers at Fort Devens, but they were not known as “colleges”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

My posting of Sept 14, 2009 displays faulty memory. I said that the post theater at Ft Devens in the 1950s-60s period was located to one’s left if you stood with your back to the main gate. Wrong. Up to the left was a bachelor officers quarters and beyond it a PX – Post Exchange store. The theater was off to the right, not the left; I believe that it faced the Parade Ground green area. There is a nice color postcard of that theater posted (incorrectly) to the CT Page for the US Army Fort Devens Hodges Theatre (CT 41578). CT Page 41655 US Army Ft Devens Bataan & Corregidor Memorial Theatre is the one in the color postcard.
I don’t know what happened to the Liberty Theatre, but there were a number of warehouses at Fort Devens when I was there. They were large, old wood-frame buildings painted white or pale yellow, and the Liberty could have been converted into one of them.

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