Emerson Majestic Theatre

Majestic Theatre

John Galen Howard, 1901–1903

Restoration: Elkus Manfredi Architects, 2002

Boston Landmark

Preservation Achievement Award, 2003

The Majestic Theatre was particularly known for musicals and light opera. A lobby of Numidian marble was buried beneath an unfortunate redecoration, but the grand Rococo theater interior survives. Above the marquee, the exterior is extravagant and elaborate gray terra-cotta. Fluted engaged columns with composite capitals dominate the façade. Festooned windows are surmounted by oculi and high-relief masked faces as keystones. Beneath the balustrade a Vitruvian scroll band is executed in terra-cotta. The interiors were the first to use electric lighting creatively. Glass globes are integrated into the richly sculpted arches of garlands that enclose the auditorium.

The architect, John Galen Howard, founded the University of California School of Architecture in Berkeley. He had studied at MIT and the École des Beaux-Arts and worked under H. H. Richardson and McKim, Mead, and White. Eben Jordan, son of the founder of Jordan Marsh, built this theater as well as Jordan Hall and the demolished Boston Opera House. The theater was restored for Emerson College’s performing arts programs.