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 103 comments)

LaConnection
LaConnection on June 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

Ah, the good old Harvard Square Theater. Double features, rock films like MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR & THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, midnight shows….

Surprised it lasted this long under the Loew’s and AMC banners. These chains only care about maximizing profits – not historical preservation or the movie-going pleasures of their neighbors.

DirtyWater
DirtyWater on June 28, 2012 at 11:57 pm

The first time I was at the University Theater was around 1956 when my mother brought me to see the Disney reissue of ‘Song of the South’ – the first real adult movie I saw there was ‘North by Northwest’ around 1959.

Even back then the clocks on either side of the screen almost never worked.

My favorite memories of the theater were in the 70’s when they had the double features that changed every couple of days if not daily.

I remember one gloomy rainy afternoon I was in a depressed state and went to the HST for the double feature – which was ‘Taxi Driver’ and “The Deerhunter'.

Oh I was in great shape after that 4 plus hours.

The last 20 or so years we have put up with the shortcomings of the layout because of the location. I don’t like Boston Common – Fenway is ‘OK’ but still a hike on the T.

Let’s be honest – this closing is more about AMC being bought by the Chinese a couple of months ago – and it is all about the real estate.

I hope the older woman who has sold tickets there for years in the daytime survives as the job kept her alive.

The big winner will be the Somerville Theater but they were doing fine before. Fresh Pond won’t see an uptick because that theater is not subway friendly.

Just a very sad end.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 6, 2012 at 3:22 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 12:54 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 12:14 pm

Renovations described in this 1962 trade article: Boxoffice

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 24, 2012 at 5:44 am

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 9:13 am

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 9:54 am

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 1:47 pm

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

rivest266
rivest266 on May 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm

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

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