AMC Loews Harvard Square 5
10 Church Street,
21 people favorited this theater
Previously operated by: AMC Theatres, Loews, Sack Theatres
Styles: Italian Renaissance
Previous Names: University Theatre, Harvard Square Theatre
News About This Theater
- Dec 5, 2013 — Casey Affleck speaks out about reopening Harvard Square
- Jun 23, 2012 — Harvard Square movie theater to close in July
The University Theatre opened in November 1926 with 1,915 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 one on top of each other on the former stage. 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.
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Recent comments (view all 105 comments)
This reopened as Harvard Square on December 27th, 1961.
Also the 1927 ad has been uploaded in the photo section.
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.
What theatre in Somerville did she attend?
A correction on how the Theatre was split up. The balcony was divided down the middle. The main auditorium was never touched other than the balcony being sealed off. Theatres #4 and #5 were put in the backstage area on top of one another at right angles in back of the main screen. They built a long walkway down the right hand side of the building. They may have added on to the backstage area to give the theatres a better width. If you still look at the backstage area on Church St. the added on area has a slightly different color brick.
Even with the changes, this was still a first class place to go to.
Here is the article about the recently-opened University Theatre that appeared in the November 20, 1926, issue of Motion Picture News:
@ Ron Newman: I was wondering about that too. Maybe the producers did not know either so they used that photo of Harvard Square instead.
Gerald Chan, the current owner of the Harvard Square Theatre, is facing pressure from members of the Cambridge City Council to soon declare his plans for the building. (Article here: http://www.cambridgeday.com/2017/02/28/seeing-cinema-empty-nearly-five-years-officials-are-losing-patience-with-owner/.)
Gerald Chan has now presented a plan to tear down this theatre and replace it with a new building, which will have two cinemas in its basement. The new cinemas would be run by the same folks who own the Somerville Theatre and the Capitol Theatre in Arlington. Thank you Cambridge City Council for putting needed pressure on this developer.
Cambridge Day article
Boston Globe article
3/19/38 promotional handout & copy added courtesy of Captain Bijou Facebook Page.
BIG DEAL – Perhaps it’s hard to believe that — in the days before mass media marketing — the arrival of radio’s THE LONE RANGER on movie screen’s across the country, was such an important event. Those of us who saw serials at our local bijous remember the excitement of actually seeing Superman, Batman or Captain America on the screen, but we may have been unaware of how important these brief fifteen minutes of film were to the smaller, neighborhood theatres.
Here’s a promotional handout for Saturday, March 19, 1938 at the University Theatre in Cambridge. Massachusetts. Look at the prominence given to the announcement that chapter one of THE LONE RANGER serial will be shown on that date. The title of the feature film, SERGEANT MURPHY starring Ronald Reagan plus cartoons are listed almost as an afterthought.