The Victory Theater (spelled “Theatre” in stone on the building itself) is a grand movie/stage show palace erected in 1919 by Goldstein Brothers Amusement Company at 81–89 Suffolk Street in Holyoke. It was named in honor of the Allied victory in World War One. The theater suffered fire damaged in 1942, but continued in operation until it closed in 1979. The building remained vacant for decades, its blade sign being removed in 1986 and marquee torn down in 1991. In recent years a restoration of the old theater has been undertaken by the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts with plans to open in 2017.
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.”