Sadly missing the “C” from its current marquee is the Calvin Theatre at 19 King Street in Northampton. The theatre was built in 1924 and was once the largest movie theatre in Northampton. It closed in 1994, but later reopened under new management as a live performance venue.
One of Worcester’s most iconic buildings is Mechanics Hall. It was built in 1857 to house educational and cultural activities by the Worcester County Mechanics Association. This organization was formed in 1842 to promote the mechanical arts and to provide education and training for industrial workers. Mechanics Hall featured meeting rooms, a library, and two halls. The building was designed by Elbridge Boyden, a Worcester architect. By the mid-twentieth century, other organizations had taken up the role once played by the Mechanics Association and other auditoriums had found favor with the public. To raise revenue, Mechanics Hall was rented out for sporting events and for a time was even a roller skating rink. The old building was no longer the cultural center it had once been and was in danger of demolition. Citizens rallied to save Mechanics Hall, which was restored and reopened in 1977. Today, the Mechanics Association‘s primary mission is to maintain Mechanics Hall, which is considered to be the finest pre-Civil War concert hall in the country and one of the four finest in North America. The Main Hall features the 1864 Hook Organ (aka the Worcester Organ). Built by E. & G.G. Hook, it is the oldest unaltered four-keyboard organ in the Western Hemisphere.
Built to honor the 9,000 citizens of Worcester who served in the First World War, the Worcester Memorial Auditorium was constructed in 1931-1932 and is located in Lincoln Square. The Classical Revival building was designed by Lucius W. Briggs of Worcester and Frederick C. Hirons of New York. The exterior features Art Deco-inspired bas-relief ornament. Inside are murals by Leon Kroll, installed in 1941. The interior has a large auditorium and a “Little Theatre” which share a single stage that can be opened up to join the rooms together. Recently used as an auxiliary courthouse, the Auditorium has been the subject of many renovation and redevelopment discussions over the years (see pdf), the city eventually plans to sell the building. Read More
The Academy of Music, in Northampton, is a theater built in 1891 and designed by William C. Brockelsby of Hartford, CT. The theater was built in 1891 by philanthropist Edward H.R. Lyman, who gave it to to the City of Northampton the following year. It was the first municipally-owned theater in the nation and continues as a venue for live performances and film screenings.
In 1926, an old livery stable, built in 1879 on the site of where the old Amherst Academy (attended by Emily Dickinson) had once stood, was rebuilt as the Amherst Cinema. The Cinema, at 28 Amity Street, continued in operation until 1999, by which time the building had already been in a deteriorating condition for some years. The vacant theater was then acquired by local residents who were seeking to turn it into a cultural and performing arts center. Developer Barry Roberts and architect John Kuhn relocated the three-screen cinema to the rear of the building and adapted the rest for retail, restaurant and office space. The Amherst Cinema Arts Center opened in 2006. A new mural has recently been added to the west side of the building, joining the vintage graffiti that reads “Save the Drake” and “For Willy, for humanity.”
Kirby Memorial Theater at Amherst College was built with funds from a charitable trust set up by Dr. Ellwood R. Kirby (1854-1920). Kirby, a Philadelphia physician, is depicted administering anesthetic to the surgery patient in Thomas Eakins 1889 painting The Agnew Clinic. The Theater was built in 1938-1939 and was designed by James Kellum Smith of McKim, Mead & White, with the help of S.R. McCandless, a theater designer. The James W. Boyden House, which had served as a college boarding house and cafeteria, was moved from the site in 1937 to 58 Woodside Street to make way for the Theater.
The original Tremont Theatre, on Tremont Street in Boston, was designed in the Greek Revival style by architect Isaiah Rogers and opened in 1827. Many famous actors, orators and singers appeared there over the years. In 1843, the building was purchased by the Free Church Baptists, Boston’s first integrated church, who renamed it the Tremont Temple Baptist Church. Thereafter, it was used as a church, although public events were often held there as well. The church burned and was rebuilt several times. The current building on the site was built in 1896, designed by Clarence Blackall. The church has a large sanctuary on the second floor, which was also used for a time as an auditorium. Originally, there were shops on the ground floor and commercial offices on the upper floors. Revenue from rents and auditorium rentals allowed the Church to provide free seats to all worshipers.