Boston University Theatre

264 Huntington Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115

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Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 14, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Also, the Huntington’s scenery, prop, and paint shops will be moving to a warehouse in Everett.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 14, 2017 at 10:20 pm

According to today’s Boston Globe, this theatre will be renamed to Huntington Avenue Theatre on July 1, 2017, to reflect the fact that Boston University will no longer own it.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 10, 2016 at 1:01 pm

One of the buildings that will be demolished and replaced with new development is the former Symphony Cinema.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 10, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Or it may be named after a donor to the theatre’s fundraising campaign. (I had a short conversation about this on the theatre’s Facebook page.)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 10, 2016 at 12:58 pm

The business page of today’s Boston Herald reports that the deal-making began in March and that Boston University will sell the theater for $25M to a real estate developer who is working on behalf of the Huntington Theatre Company. The building of sets and scenery on-site will be moved elsewhere and the space will be developed into retail on the ground floor and housing above. There will be some refurbishment of the theater. Yes, almost certainly the theater’s name will be changed, probably to “Huntington Theatre”.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm

In today’s Boston Globe: Deal gives Huntington control of BU Theatre

The theatre is being sold, but the Huntington Theatre Company will remain there and will refurbish it. I expect they will want to change the theatre’s name.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 14, 2015 at 2:07 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.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 10, 2015 at 2:59 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 October 10, 2015 at 2:19 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 8, 2015 at 5:08 pm

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

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 8, 2015 at 1:21 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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 30, 2014 at 5:40 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 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.

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

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!

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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 18, 2005 at 7:06 pm

According to Donald C. King’s new book The Theatres of Boston: A Stage and Screen History, the Repertory Theatre in 1939 was part of Fred E. Lieberman’s “proven pictures” circuit, showing cheap reruns of popular old films. Other theatres in his “proven pictures” circuit were the Tremont, Bijou, Normandie, and Majestic.

Starting in September 1940, the Repertory was used as a live stage once again, presenting the play Life With Father.

King says that the theatre was renamed Esquire around 1949. I do not know if this is accurate; it conflicts with the history that Boston University presents on its page.

tomovieboy70 on April 22, 2005 at 5:28 pm

I attended Boston University’s School for the Arts in the 1970s and worked many times on the stage of this beautiful old theater. Our graduation even took place here. I had no idea it was one a movie theater!