In a city blessed with hundreds of beautiful and significant buildings, it’s easy for even the most stunning spots to be overlooked. After all, visitors come here to view sites of historical importance… and to see Fenway! A night at the theater might be part of the itinerary, but most people pick the show they want to see, unaware that there’s a Boston theater so mesmerizing that its interior rivals any performance you might watch on the stage.
By Boston standards, the Boston Opera House is relatively new – it first opened in 1928. The venue alternated between screening movies and putting on Vaudeville performances.
The outside is impressive…
…But it’s the inside that’ll leave you speechless.
Originally called the B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre, it wasn’t like other Vaudeville circuit palaces.
The building’s decorations involved an unprecedented amount of grandeur. A 1928
Boston Globe article reported that it: "kind of takes your breath away."
That statement still holds true today.
The building was designed by Thomas White Lamb, one of the best designers of theaters and cinemas at the time.
His plan blended together French and Italian architecture and the ornate results speak for themselves…
Financially, this theater had a rough time. It changed ownership – and names – multiple times. If you spent time in Boston between 1965 and 1978, you’d have known this as The Savoy.
In 1978, it became the Boston Opera House, a name that has stuck even though operas were only performed here for a relatively short time.
By the start of the 21st century, this historic theater’s fate was far from certain.
In 2002, Clear Channel stepped in, with an ambitious plan to preserve, restore, and bring the building up to code. The process took two years and cost $30 million!
The architecture firm Martinez + Johnson did painstaking amounts of research to keep the theatre as close to its original appearance as Workers took samples of the decor in order to replicate them…
...and found samples of the original carpets and wall coverings.
If Thomas White Lamb were still living, he’d recognize many of the design touches from his original plans.
Doesn't the interior remind you of a giant crown?
The Boston Opera House has changed hands again and is now locally owned by Don Law and David Muger.
Nowadays the venue is known for putting on Broadway shows and ballets. If you’re fortunate enough to get tickets, allow plenty of extra time before the performance because you’re going to want to soak in every intricate detail of one of Boston’s most breathtaking buildings.
The Boston Opera House is located at 539 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111. You can find ticket and performance information
Have you been lucky enough to see this spectacular theater? Did you go for a performance? If so, what did you see? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!
Learn more about Boston’s historic architecture
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