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 16 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 2, 2005 at 11:49 am

I remember it as the Esquire Th. circa 1948-49, presenting British and other foriegn films. In the large space in the front left of the building I have a vague memory that there was a restaurant at one time. I attended 2 plays there on stage presented by the Boston University Gershwin Workshop on May 9, 1953. I was back again on Dec. 3, 1954 for another play in what had been renamed “Boston University Theatre”. So, the purchase by B.U. and the name change took place sometime betwen May 1953 and Dec. 1954. After B.U. took it over they rented it out to various groups, but I don’t think that it ever showed films again. It’s a good -looking theatre, inside and out. I think that when Fred Lieberman ran it in the 1930s he kept the original name “Repertory”. The Esquire name was definitely of 1940s origin, but I don’t know exactly when.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 2, 2005 at 11:54 am

The architect was J. William Beal and Son and it opened on November 10, 1925, and has about 950 seats.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 4, 2005 at 10:59 am

In the Boston Post theatre page of Sept 23 1947, the Esquire Theatre is listed as part of M&P Theatres. It and the Modern Theatre downtown are showing the movie “Life with Father” (Warner Bros.) for the 5th week. So the Esquire name dates back at least to mid-1947. It’s also interesting that “Life with Father” was a big hit at this theatre both on the stage and then on the screen.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 22, 2006 at 10:19 am

There is a very small ad for the Repertory Theatre in the Boston Post of Wed. February 25, 1931. Movies playing are “Melodie des Herzen” (German) and “A Throw of the Dice”.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 8, 2006 at 11:37 am

In the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac, the Repertory Theatre is listed as part of the Fred E. Lieberman Circuit. At the same time, the M & P Theatres show the “Esuire” (sic) as one of their Boston theatres. However, the Paramount – M&P summary does not include the “Esquire”. It appears that just as the Almanac was being readied for printing, the theatre must have changed hands.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2006 at 5:51 am

On this 1928 map, the ‘Jewett Repertory Theatre’ is visible on the south side of Huntington Avenue, between Gainsborough Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 7, 2008 at 1:38 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
dplomin1954 on June 19, 2010 at 3:05 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 6:24 am

Small photo of the Esquire, with marquee, during run of Henry V. Boxoffice magazine, May 18, 1946:
View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 9, 2010 at 2:39 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.

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