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Bring Back the Harvard Square Theatre and Keep the Spirit of Harvard Square Alive!

This petition had 195 supporters

Keep the Spirit of Harvard Square Alive!!

The Harvard Square Theatre was shuttered on July 8, 2012, and with it a key part of Harvard Square’s vibrancy was lost. The building currently stands abandoned with its luminous history only a memory. Opened in November 1926 as the University Theatre, its lobby faced Mass Avenue, looking straight into the heart of Harvard Square. Its interior was furnished with 1,915 seats and fitted with a 40-foot screen, a balcony with box seats, and a loge section with wicker rocking chairs and velvet cushions. Decorated in a very reserved Italian Renaissance manner, it became well known as an art house, with special screenings and double features, as described in Cinema Treasures and an online essay called “The Lunch Movie.”

Major theatre highlights: Alfred Hitchcock’s screening of Torn Curtain; associations with directors Sidney Lumet and Woody Allen; the first live performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Concerts in the Sixties featured performances by David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Clash, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, and Bruce Springsteen as well as Leonard Bernstein’s famous 1973 lectures (The Unanswered Question) with the “Greatest 5 Minutes in Music Education.” The 1980s saw its entrance moved to Church Street with the lobby becoming a retail space, and the theatre’s interior re-partitioned into four smaller screening areas. The décor is still intact, if now hidden by new construction and dropped ceilings.

Urgent: A Policy Order is before the Cambridge City Council pressing the current owner to decide on the theatre’s future within the month. For many of us, keeping this a functioning theatre is key. It would make an ideal mixed use cinema/performance site if even on a smaller scale, a private or collaborative public/non-profit/private endeavor to rejuvenate and enliven Harvard Square during both the daytime and evening hours (with movies, musical performances, and featured lectures).

In the current era of Harvard Square commercial blight when soaring rents are forcing out local retailers, we support renovating and re-opening the Harvard Square Theatre as part of broader efforts to:

Bring Back the Harvard Square Theatre and Keep the Spirit of Harvard Square Alive!

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