Boston University Theatre

264 Huntington Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115

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Built in 1925 by Henry Jewett, an Australian actor. Successful repertory theater during its early years, later becoming a movie theater (the Esquire), which operated until 1958. Currently, the Boston University Theatre is home to the Huntington Theatre Company.

Contributed by AlLarkin

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 7, 2008 at 6:38 pm

In the entertainment section of today’s Boston Herald there is an article “Ghost tale will take ‘Shining’ to theater” by Jenna Scherer which concerns the Huntington Theatre Company’s new play “Shining City” by Conor McPherson. According to Ms. Scherer, the spirit which haunts the play is not the only ghostly spirit residing in the Boston University Theatre. It seems that Henry Jewett, the Australian actor who opened the BU Theatre (as the Repertory Theatre in 1925), died under “murky” circumstances in 1930. He is believed to have been a suicide in the space under the stage. Over the years, there have been numerous creepy happenings in the theater. In addition to “Hank the Ghost” there is also a female spirit.

dplomin1954 on June 19, 2010 at 8:05 pm

I recently moved here and work across the street from the University Theater, and was wondering about the building next to it, OLD FRANCE. I tried the web and nothing comes up on old Boston history on it. I’m assuming it was a restarant or nite club in the early 20’s from its' architecture, but when I peeked in yesterday (it’s their production facility) any detail was covered with a drop ceiling or covered up walls. Also, up the street on Mass Ave is a building in white terra cotta called the Empire where their is a chinese restarant on the ground level. I can’t an Empire Theater listed on your site. Again, no history available on this building either. Any help? Thanks!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

Small photo of the Esquire, with marquee, during run of Henry V. Boxoffice magazine, May 18, 1946:
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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm

to dave1954- 1) there was no Empire Theatre on Mass Ave, or any unaccounted-for theater on Mass Ave near Huntington Ave. 2) I have a very vague memory that there was a fairly large German-American restaurant next to the Esquire/Boston Univ. Theatre, to its left, way back around 1950 or so. If you have the exact addresses for these 2 locations, you can go to the Boston Landmarks Commission office in Boston City Hall and look at what they might have there.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 30, 2014 at 10:40 pm

The correct name of the architectural firm that designed this 1925 theater is J. Williams Beal Sons. I don’t believe there ever was a Beal & Sons (the name never appears in trade publications of the period, but only in modern books.) J Williams Beal himself died in 1919, and his sons, who had worked in his office but were not partners in the business, established the firm at that time. I suspect that they incorporated their noted father’s name as they were still fairly young and had not yet established a reputation of their own.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 8, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Boston University plans to put the theater up for sale very soon. Only stipulation is that the new owner must agree to house the Huntington Theatre Company through June 2017. They say it now has 890 seats, and the sale includes two adjoining buildings. BU wants to build a new theater on or near their main campus on Commonwealth Avenue.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 8, 2015 at 10:08 pm

A perfect permanent house for a Boston opera company, something sorely needed.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 10, 2015 at 7:19 pm

It would make a nice opera theater, although perhaps not for the big productions like “Aida” and “Turandot”. In recent years there have been a few musical productions there, even including, I think, a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 10, 2015 at 7:59 pm

I went to “Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria” there a few months ago as part of an early opera festival featuring works of Monteverdi.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 14, 2015 at 7:07 pm

An opinion piece by JoAnn Fitzpatrick in today’s Quincy Patriot Ledger discusses the plight of the Boston University Theatre (and the Colonial downtown). She says that BU rejected the offer to buy it tendered by the Huntington Theatre Co. as “too low”. The reaction seems to be “Do the right thing and sell it to them for what they can afford instead of greedily trying to get the biggest buck from some developer who will tear it down.”

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