The Cutler Majestic Theatre is the work of architect John Galen Howard, one of the few Americans to attend
Paris’s L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the late 1800s. The Chelmsford native decked out his only known Boston
work with all the classical references that characterize the Beaux-Arts style. As such, it is one of the
city’s few great examples of Beaux-Arts architecture, along with the Boston Public Library and South Station.
Today, a signature green placard near the building’s entrance announces its significance as a Boston Historic Landmark.
On the exterior, hundreds of additional bulbs mounted in rosettes once lined the carved terra cotta arches as well. “[The façade]
is part of creating this sense of arrival, this sense of grandeur,” says architectural historian Amy Finstein, who lectures at
the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. “When people saw the theater, suddenly they thought, ‘Whoa, this is bigger than me.’
They [knew that they had] arrived at someplace important.”
Three additional arches frame a trio of Tiffany stained-glass windows flanked by fluted ionic columns. The theater’s splendor is further
accentuated by intricate stone carvings of fruit atop each window, surrounding three theater masks depicting happiness, sadness, and anger.
Gilded decorative plaster and rich handcrafted accents abound, which earned the theater the nickname “House of Gold” early on.
The lobby is adorned in a reddish-orange faux marble called scagliola, as well as murals by William de Leftwich Dodge, an artist
known for his work in the Library of Congress and the Boston Public Library.
The theater was saved from the wrecking ball by Emerson College in 1983; five years later, the college launched a $14.8 million
restoration project. Reopened in 1989, it was eventually renamed the Cutler Majestic in honor of Ted and Joan Cutler. The Cutlers
funded the final phases of the project, overseen by Elkus Manfredi Architects and unveiled in 2003. The theater’s marquee is one
of the only parts of the building not originally drafted by Howard.
To enjoy a truly authentic experience, book a seat in rows C or D of the center balcony. Made up of original seats from the
orchestra level, they include a small hook and rack below—once used to hold canes and top hats. The Cutler is much the same
today as it was a century ago—Mrs. Gardner likely wouldn’t spot a difference.