ⓘ Somerville Theatre. The Somerville Theatre is an independent movie theater and concert venue in the Davis Square neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts, Unit ..

Somerville Theatre

ⓘ Somerville Theatre

The Somerville Theatre is an independent movie theater and concert venue in the Davis Square neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts, United States. Over one hundred years old, the Somerville Theatre started off as a vaudeville house and movie theater. The theater has since transitioned and now operates as a live music venue and first-run movie theater. As a music venue, the theater has played host to many historic concerts, including the first of the two Last Dispatch concerts, two shows by Bruce Springsteen in 2003, and a performance by U2 in 2009. Recent live performances have included Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Cursive, Norah Jones, The Jonas Brothers, Joan Baez, and the John Butler Trio.

The building also hosts the Somerville branch of the Museum of Bad Art.


1. Early years

The Somerville Theater is part of the Hobbs Building which was built in 1914 by Joseph Hobbs and designed by the firm of Funk & Wilcox of Boston. Designed for stage shows, vaudeville, opera, and motion pictures, the theater was only one of the highlights of the Hobbs Building, which also contained a basement cafe, basement bowling alley and billiards hall, the theater lobbies and ten storefronts on the ground floor, and the Hobbs Crystal Ballroom, a 700-person dance hall, on the second floor. The second and third floors also contained office space for lease. In 1915, the Somerville Theater Players began their stock company presentation of weekly play performances. Among the notable players who came up at the Somerville were Tallulah Bankhead, Kay Corbett, and Francis X. Bushman. Future film director Busby Berkeley famous for 42nd Street and other stylized musicals of the 1930s directed many shows at the Somerville Theatre in the mid-1920s.


2. The movie era

In 1926, the Hobbs family leased and subsequently sold the theater to Arthur F. Viano, whose family built and owned other area theaters such as the Teele Square Theater, the Broadway Theater in East Somerville, and the Regent Theater in Arlington. The Vianos continued with the stock theater company until the harsh economics of the Depression forced them into a movies only policy in 1932. Throughout the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, the Somerville remained a prime neighborhood movie house. In those days, new films would open at the downtown theaters like the RKO Keiths now the Boston Opera House, the Paramount, the Metropolitan now the Citi Performing Arts Center and the Loews Orpheum now a concert hall. After playing downtown, the pictures made their way, week by week, often two and three per week, to the neighborhood houses like the Somerville Theatre. Like all Viano Theaters, the Somerville was well known for fresh popcorn, and also for gimmicks like prize nights. These gift nights began in the depression and lasted at the Somerville until the 1970s. These were certain nights, usually weekdays, where dishware, appliances, and other merchandise was given away to entice patrons to attend the show. Gradually the Viano family came to operate the Capitol Theater in Arlington as well, and by the 1970s, the Somerville, Capitol, Regent, and Broadway theaters were mainstays of local movie-going. The opening of the Sacks Assembly Square Cinema now closed helped to kill the Broadway Theater, and the Fresh Pond Drive-In became a multiplex, forcing the Cambridge-Somerville-Arlington neighborhood theaters to become strictly second-run venues.


3. Repertory house

The Viano family leased the Somerville to Garen Daly in 1982, and he turned the theater into a repertory house, running double features and daily changes, offering independent and offbeat fare in the days before video and DVD made it easy to track down such titles. Daly also brought back live performances to the stage for the first time since the 1930s when he began programming concerts to complement the film programs. During this period, the Hobbs Building was purchased by Chatham Light Realty, whose owners, the Fraiman family, had previously bought and operated the Capitol Theater in Arlington. When Garen Dalys lease ended in 1989, the Fraimans decided to operate the Somerville themselves, closing the venue for a series of renovations. Some in the community were afraid the original theater would be subdivided into smaller cinemas, and formed an activist group to prevent such an occurrence, but as the owners had never actually made that decision, the theater was preserved, and reopened in 1990.


4. Renovation and restoration

Movie attendance, however, had dropped considerably, and a plan had to be devised to keep the theater competitive. The remainder of the Hobbs Building, with the exception of a few storefronts and the theater, had been abandoned since the early 80s, and this space proved to be the answer.

In 1996, extensive renovations began. The bowling alleys in the basement and a portion of the first floor retail space were gutted to create modern bathrooms and two new film rooms. Two more screens were built in the former ballroom space on the second floor. An elevator was installed, new windows and a marquee reminiscent of the original were added, and the third and second floors became new modern office space. The theater lobby was expanded by taking over an adjacent storefront, and new comfortable seats were installed in the orchestra seating of the original auditorium.

In 2006, further renovations restored the original auditorium interior to a more historically accurate theme and color scheme while upgrades to the stage like new curtains, rigging, and movie screen were also completed.

In 2008, the second gallery of the Museum of Bad Art opened in the basement of the theater. The gallery was placed near both the womens and mens restrooms, similar to the museums first gallery location in the Dedham Community Theater. Although the original gallery is free and open to the public, the gallery here is only free with admission to the theater.

In 2009, renovations included new balcony seating, replacing the original seats from 1914; the installation of Dolby Digital Sound and 24 surround speakers throughout the original auditorium; and a revamped projection booth, containing two Norelco DP-70 projectors. The Somerville is now one of the few theaters in New England that can run 70mm film.


5. Today

The Fraiman family, then operating as Fraiman Enterprises Inc. - now Frame One Theatres, took ownership of the Somerville Theatre in 1990 and has since made multiple changes to keep up with the evolving movie theater industry. Since 1990, 4 screens have been added and digital projectors have been installed. Home to one of the most technically advanced projection booths on the east coast, the Somerville can present virtually any film format - from digital releases to archival 35mm and 70mm film prints. The Somerville also counts a rentable 31-seat "microcinema" among its screening rooms.

The theatre currently operates as a first- and second-run moviehouse, with an emphasis on independent and art house fare. It also regularly hosts live music, dance and comedy performances, with such luminaries as U2, Louis CK, Jonathan Richman, Thomas Dolby, and Arlo Guthrie, having graced its stage.

The theatre regularly runs vintage 35mm and 70mm films, silent films with live musical accompaniment, and as of 2016, hosts a yearly "The 70mm and Widescreen Film Festival" in September. It is also the main host theatre for the Independent Film Festival of Boston and The Slutcracker.

The Somerville Theatre is in the minority in the movie theater industry for being locally owned and independent but also operating as a for profit company.

  • Somerville ˈsʌmərvɪl SUM - ər - vil is a city located directly to the northwest of Boston, and north of Cambridge, in Middlesex County, Massachusetts
  • The following is a timeline of the history of Somerville Massachusetts, USA. 1630 - Charlestown settled. 1631 - Colonial Governor John Winthrop granted
  • Somerville is a borough in and the county seat of Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough s population
  • Davis Square is a major intersection in the northwestern section of Somerville Massachusetts where several streets meet: Holland Street, Dover Street
  • Phyllis Jeanne Somerville born December 12, 1943 is an American stage, film and television actress. She is best known for her roles in Little Children
  • and is now run by his former puppeteer partner, Chris Somerville The small, 100 - seat theatre is home to a collection of approximately 1, 000 marionettes
  • This is a list of properties and historic districts in Somerville Massachusetts, that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The
  • with two final live concerts. The first concert took place at the Somerville Theatre to a very exclusive crowd. Two days later, on July 31, 2004, the band
  • Somerville is a town in Fayette County, Tennessee, United States. It is part of the Memphis metropolitan area. The population was 3, 094 at the 2010 census
  • digital projection system and a HVAC upgrade. Somerville Theatre Coolidge Corner Theatre Brattle Theatre Archived 2015 - 06 - 18 at the Wayback Machine Cambridge
  • Somerville College, Oxford, including alumni and fellows of the college. This list consists almost entirely of women, due to the fact that Somerville
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  • David Troy Somerville October 2, 1933 July 14, 2015 was a Canadian singer operating primarily in the United States, best known as the co - founder, and

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  • Corner Theatre The West Newton Cinema, and the Dedham Community Theatre Then for the SF30, the Festival returned to the Somerville Theatre where it
  • William Lyon Somerville August 5, 1886 April 14, 1965 was a Canadian architect practicing in Toronto, Ontario and Southern Ontario, Canada. He was
  • except Dedicated to Dolphy recorded live on April 17, 1988 at Somerville Theatre Somerville Massachusetts. Quintet Oliver Lake - saxophone Geri Allen
  • Bonnie Somerville born February 24, 1974 is an American actress and singer. She has had roles in a number of movies and television series, most notably
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  • 66. Mr. Crosby s Play Acted in Somerville Boston Globe December 19, 1922 4. via Somerville Theatre Boston Globe April 1, 1923
  • The Orpheum Theatre is a music venue located at 1 Hamilton Place in Boston, Massachusetts. One of the oldest theaters in the United States, it was built
  • lives in the Magoun Square neighborhood of Somerville Comp produced by the Boston Playwrights Theatre Erin Go - Bragh - less The Hill Claire Silva Junkie
  • Somerville Theatre and St. Vincent Chris Van Slyke. Retrieved October 24, 2015. St. Vincent May 19, 2009 St. Vincent - Marrow Live Somerville Theater
  • Scottish singer - songwriter Jimmy Somerville entered the music industry as the lead vocalist of the British pop band Bronski Beat. The trio, originally
  • Independent Lens. Retrieved 2017 - 01 - 27. BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT Somerville Theatre Somerville Theatre Retrieved 2017 - 01 - 27. Birth of a Movement: The Battle
  • The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute originally the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute is an acting school located at 115 East 15th Street between
  • graduated from Somerville College, Oxford in 1980. Ross read oriental studies and Chinese at Oxford and became interested in theatre She was president
  • Brookline, Dedham, Foxboro, the Boston Common Frog Pond, Boston s North End, Somerville and West Roxbury. The Academy has over 2, 000 students, and utilizes the
  • University of Oxford where she studied at Somerville College for her thesis on Schubert s music for the theatre She was formerly Tutor in Piano and Visiting

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