Cutler Majestic Theatre


Award for Outstanding Restoration Project 2004, given to the Cutler Majestic Theatre by the League of Historic American Theatres

When Emerson College purchased the Majestic Theatre in 1983 it was showing X-rated films, had fallen into severe physical decline, and faced imminent demolition. The 1903 Beaux Arts opera house which the Boston Globe at its opening called “the most beautiful playhouse Boston has yet seen,” served as a metaphor for the derelict condition of Boston’s historic Theatre District.

Emerson’s visionary leaders understood that the success of its new theater hinged on the renewal of the neighborhood it anchored. In partnership with the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and neighborhood groups, Emerson spearheaded efforts to create special zoning for the district that preserved theaters and support spaces while encouraging sensitive mixed-use development. 

Then Emerson took it a step further, and began a phased move of its entire campus to the neighborhood. It preserved and adapted historic buildings for dorms, classrooms, a library, and offices. Hundreds of students brought the streets to life. The neighbors saw the potential and responded by restoring the district’s historic theaters, restaurants, and hotels, and building new mixed-use developments. Over 20 years, Boston’s historic Theatre District came back to life so that today it is one of Boston’s bustling, energetic neighborhoods and a center of life downtown.

The Cutler Majestic has won many awards since its restoration, including:

  • National Preservation Honor Awards 2004, National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Award for Outstanding Restoration Project 2004, League of Historic American Theatres
  • Modernization Grand Prize winner, (2004) Buildings magazine June 2004 issue
  • Section Award, (2004) Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
  • Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award (2003) for outstanding achievement
  • Preservation Achievement Award, (2003) Significant Renovation/Restoration Preserving Boston’s Architectural or Cultural Heritage, Boston Preservation Alliance
  • 37th Annual Preservation Award, (2009) The Victorian Society in America, New England Chapter
  • Ted and Joan Cutler and Cutler Majestic Theatre Day in the City of Boston, proclamation by Boston City Council (October 30, 2003)
  • Boston’s Best 2004, Improper Bostonian magazine
  • Historic Preservation Award, (2001) Boston Society of Architects, to Emerson College for "exemplary standard of care for the Emerson Majestic Theatre and Little Building, and other historic properties.”
  • Historic Neighborhoods Foundation Award (1992) for enhancing and preserving the design and social heritage of the City of Boston
  • Emerson Majestic Theatre Day proclamation by Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn (April 26, 1989)
  • Best of Boston award, (1989, 1992) Boston magazine