Harvard Square Theatre

10 Church Street,
Cambridge, MA 02138

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AMC Loews Harvard Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This theater opened in 1926 with 1,700 seats and a huge 40 foot screen. The lobby faced Mass Avenue, looking straight into the heart of Harvard Square. The balcony had box seats and a loge section with wicker rocking chairs and velvet cushions. The asbestos fire curtain had a scene of George Washington crossing the Delaware.

Decorated in a very reserved Italian Renaissance manner, with many murals, and two great organ grilles bordering the proscenium, this theater was built as the University Theatre, before changing its name in the 1960’s.

It became well known as an art house, hosting many special screenings and double features. Alfred Hitchcock screened “Torn Curtain” here, and directors like Sidney Lumet and Woody Allen have also used the theater. Concerts began in the 1960’s, with such notables as David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Clash, and Bob Dylan.

The first US live performance of the ‘Rocky Horror Show’ also took place here, while the cult film itself found a home at the theater in 1984, after it’s old home, the venerable Exeter St. Theatre, closed. It still plays every Saturday night, with live accompaniment.

In 1981, the balcony was partitioned into two smaller screens. Additionally, the lobby was turned into retail space, moving the entrance around the corner to Church Street.

In 1987, two more screens were added by dividing each side of the orchestra level. Most of the decor is still in place, though hidden behind new construction and dropped ceilings. A mural for the awareness of Breast Cancer was painted on the side of the building recently, with space for the mural donated by Loews, who owns the building.

The Harvard Square Theatre was closed on July 8, 2012.

Contributed by Andy Blesser

Recent comments (view all 101 comments)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 6, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Rocky Horror Picture Show (with Full Body Cast) will move to Loews Boston Common, effective August 4. The last shows at Harvard Square will be tomorrow night, July 7, 9:30 pm and 12:30 am.

orsonwellescinema
orsonwellescinema on July 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Hey all;

A bunch of us film critics, cinephiles and whatnot will be gathering at the Border Cafe (near the Harvard Sq theater, on the corner to its right) tonight (Sunday, July 8th) at 8pm .. for a beer and to share some memories of this old place on it’s last day of operation. Feel free to join us!

Steve

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Renovations described in this 1962 trade article: Boxoffice

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Boston.com yesterday reported that AMC has sold the Harvard Square Theatre for $6.5 million to Cambridge-based Carpenter & Company, who own the Charles Hotel several blocks away.

“Richard Friedman, the president and chief operating officer of Carpenter & Company, said the company bought the building last week and he expects a plan will be place for the future of the property within two months.” He said that re-using the building as a theater is one of many options that will be considered.

PopcornNRoses
PopcornNRoses on January 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Anyone hear anything about the latest plans for the location yet? Been keeping an eye out but haven’t seen anything yet…

PopcornNRoses
PopcornNRoses on March 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Stopped by the location on Wednesday night. You can still see inside through the front door and they haven’t done anything with it as yet. I wish Alamo would seize the opportunity and grab this location to come to metro Boston…::sigh::

rivest266
rivest266 on May 11, 2013 at 9:47 pm

This reopened as Harvard Square on December 27th, 1961.

rivest266
rivest266 on May 11, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Also the 1927 ad has been uploaded in the photo section.

mrchangeover
mrchangeover on September 30, 2014 at 1:10 am

A night-time photo of the University Theatre (Harvard Square Theatre) from the early 1940’s was included in Episode 7 (A Strong and Active Faith) of Ken Burns' outstanding documentary “The Roosevelts”, shown last week on PBS. The marquee advertised “All That Money can Buy” (1941) and “The Clipper”. The photo can be seen briefly at the 22.55 mark of Episode 7. The narrator mentioned that one of FDR’s former Personal Secretaries went to a movie in Somerville, Massachusetts in July 1944 and saw a newsreel showing FDR after he was nominated to run again for re-election as president.She remarked on how ill he looked. Thanks to Dr David Guss at Tufts for confirming where the theatre was located.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 30, 2014 at 3:36 am

What theatre in Somerville did she attend?

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