Orpheum Theatre, Boston
The Orpheum was built on the site of the Boston Music Hall in 1852. In 1900 the building was gutted and rebuilt within the old walls for conversion into a vaudeville theater and reopened on February 12, 1905, as the Empire Theatre. When Percy Williams took over the theater on September 3, 1906, it was renamed the Orpheum. It was then sold to Marcus Loew in 1910. Loew bought additional land and hired architect Thomas Lamb to design a new theater. The new theater was designed in the Adam style with expanded capacity. The proscenium arch was made of golden-hued glass and illuminated from behind.
In January 1916 the theater reopened, hosting a combination of vaudeville and film. Vaudeville was replaced in the 1930s with first-run double features. In 1965 film distributors dropped the exclusive first-run policy for downtown theaters. This was a tough time for the Orpheum because it then had to compete with nearby theaters for first-run films. Loew’s abandoned the Orpheum Theatre on January 18, 1972. It was renamed the Aquarius and was once again a home for live performances. In 1974, Sarah Caldwell moved the Opera Company of Boston in and renamed the building the Orpheum.
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