Emerson continues to try to figure out what to do with shuttered Colonial Theatre, but won't turn it into a cafeteria

Emerson College today announced plans to turn the building between the old Alley and the theater on Boylston Street into a new student dining center - to go along with the 18-story dorm the college is building there.

That's good news for fans of the old Colonial, which the college had initially looked at as space for a new student center/feeding facility.

But what exactly happens to the Colonial now remains under stody, college President Lee Pelton wrote:

I appreciate and remain touched by the interest that the performing arts communities and some of our faculty demonstrated in their commitment to the Colonial. We value the theater’s history and its beauty. We have a team of people working hard on studying the options for its continued use as a theater space.



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How is this even legal with

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How is this even legal with the midtown cultural district protecting theaters and other historic registers?

A landmark is being turned into a cafetorium worthy of a regional high school.

Only the facade is historic.

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Only the facade is historic. The interior had been retrofitted many times before Emerson even owned the building.


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The onetime plan to convert the theatre into a cafeteria has been ditched. The dining hall will now be in an adjacent building. They're still studying what to do with the theatre, but they "have a team of people working hard on studying the options for its continued use as a theater space."

Just to clarify, my comment

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Just to clarify, my comment above is referring to the Walker Building, which has the new dining. Historic easement on the facade.

Does the Colonial Theater actually have

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formal landmark status? Despite popular belief to the contrary, note that a National Register Listing alone is not a "thou shall not renovate or demolish" edict. Rather, it just provides for any renovations or changes to be vetted through the appropriate City and State agencies first.

And current state and local laws and regulations generally grant exceptions to this requirement for any interior renovation work.

So sad...

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The Colonia Theater was the place where many shows had their start before Broadway. I love the music of Gershwin and The Colonial was where Porgy and Bess premiered.