Until Emerson built the Tufte Performance and Production Center, which opened in 2003, all buildings that the College occupied had been purchased and remodeled to suit a college campus. Remodeling buildings has come with some challenges but also some fun surprises! Many of these buildings were constructed in the early 20th century and had undergone several renovations or updates before Emerson purchased them. During the College’s renovations, construction crews have often uncovered original features, such as a ceiling mural hidden by a drop ceiling or fireplaces covered by HVAC units.
The Cutler Majestic Theatre is probably the most well-known restoration undertaken by the College, given the many awards it has won and the length of time Emerson spent renovating it—a full 20 years! Some of the items found during the renovation, which are housed in the College Archives, include a variety of programs from Majestic performances during the 1920s–1930s, ticket stubs, original stained glass, and a manicure case that was found in a dressing room. The Archives also has a few of the larger original features of the theater, such as the glass light coverings and a wooden seat from the audience, along with many pictures taken during the restoration.
The Paramount Theatre, as we commonly refer to it, actually encompasses two theaters: the Paramount and the Bijou. When Emerson began renovations on them in the mid-2000s, the buildings had been altered so much over time that only the facade of the building was original. There were still several interesting finds made during the renovation, some of which were incorporated into the design of the new space.
Recognize the green couch in this image?
It was found in the Randall Lobby during restoration. The College had it reupholstered and placed where it was thought to have been located originally.
Rosalie Gartner (College Archives)