every city has a haunted theater it seems - Boston is no different
Victorian splendor and opulence, Boston's Cutler Majestic Theatre has seen good times, bad times, and for a brief stint, some "really good" times.
Look beyond the beauty and majesty of this historically rich theatre, and you will find a few patrons who refuse to give up their seats. Who are the theatre-loving ghosts of the Cutler Majestic Theatre? Nobody knows for sure, but there are plenty who make themselves known to anyone willing to take notice.
There's something about old theatres. They all have their own haunted stories, and Cutler Majestic Theatre is no different. The spirits who haunt Boston's spectacular Beaux-Arts theatre are as diverse as the theatre's history. And of the 1,186 seats, there's always a few taken, when the show has gone dark.
The second and third balconies of Cutler Majestic Theatre have proven to be the most paranormally active areas. Stagehands, technicians, directors, actors, and theatre staff have all reported seeing figures sitting in the balconies. Some have even spoken to what they thought was a man, only to discover he was an apparition who faded away right in front of their eyes.
It's worth mentioning that the second balcony was designated for minorities and the poor of the time. This leads one to question the relation between the second balcony and heightened paranormal activity; as it's not only apparitions that are seen there, but also what some would consider poltergeist activity.
The reports began when an employee noticed an empty seat had been left down, instead of up, like all of the other empty seats. This could easily have been written off as one that was missed during the cleaning of the theatre; however, it takes weight to keep the seats down.
The seat phenomenon began to repeat itself. One day a stagehand noticed an empty seat in the second balcony move. He went to investigate what was holding the empty seat down, he found that dust was cleared away on the seat as if someone had been sitting there. But alas, there was nobody around, nor had anyone been there in ages.
Through the years, the paranormal activity has become somewhat expected in the second balcony. The ghosts are no secret.
The Berkeley BeaconSept 2020I literally felt a hand in the center of my back shove me in the direction of the edge of the balcony,said Greg Crafts, an Emerson Alumni.
Employees and staff are courteous to the second balcony's spirits, always saying "excuse me" as they cross in front of a down "empty" seat. Mindful that these lost souls have been there longer than anyone else in the building.
Many paranormal investigators believe that electricity can affect ghosts and activity in locations. This could explain all of the claims of experiences near the sound system and lighting system boards.
The apparitions that have been reported near the system boards are full body and seen by many different people. Staff members have seen a man in a tuxedo, a little girl with long blonde braids, as well as a black-shadow figure in a grey flannel hat. There have also been reports of two adults and a child, all dressed in Victorian-era clothing, sitting near the systems board.
Others claim to see an elderly woman sitting in a seat, watching a show that's not happening. The question on everyone's mind is, "Who are these people? Why are they here?".
The theories of who these mysterious spirits are and why they are roaming the Cutler Majestic Theatre's auditorium and stage are vast. Christopher Forest writes in his book, Boston's Haunted History, "According to local lore the spirits of a little girl, a politician and perhaps even former stage crew and actors have been seen roaming the Majestic." But who are they?
1905 Playbill from
As Ye Sow, starring lead actress Helen Macgregor.
On November 23, 1905, Miss Helen Macgregor died at the age of 24. Miss Helen was operated on for "slight deafness." The surgery was considered a success; however, "due to general weakness caused the patient to yield to the shock," according to The North Adams Transcript.
The Boston Daily Globe, 1905
Miss Helen Macgregor was the leading actress in the show, "As Ye Sow", at the Cutler Majestic Theatre at the time of her death. She was "just at the zenith of her professional career." Perhaps Miss Helen is returning nightly, to continue her leading lady performance.
In 1897, just a few years before the Cutler Majestic Theatre would be constructed, there was an awful explosion ignited by a gas-line. Nine people were killed, and over fifty injured at the location of the future Theatre. One of the victims of the blast was seventy-year-old Miss A. Matilda Bates. She was burned to death inside of her private carriage.
The horrible explosion also took the life of Benjamin R. Sargent, the driver of a horse car which was blown up. Sargent had worked for the horse car company for thirty-seven years.
For several seconds, the air was filled with dense smoke, so much that the bodies of the victims were hidden.Boston Post, 1897
Could this tragedy be the root of some of the hauntings that are so common inside the Cutler Majestic Theatre? Are they residual energies stuck in the place where they lost their lives? One can only speculate who the ghosts of the Cutler Majestic Theatre really are.
Less than six years after the gas-line tragedy, on February 16, 1903, the Cutler Majestic Theatre opened. Interestingly, it was the first theatre in Boston to use electric lighting, as the others had to be retrofitted from gas to electric.
The architect, John Galen Howard, was fascinated with the safety of electricity and worked the new electric light bulb into his design. Over 4,500 light bulbs were used at the opening of the Cutler Majestic Theatre.
TheTiffany stained-glass windows, arches, and ionic columns, the Cutler Majestic exudes elegance. It has been called "classical perfection" and an exquisite example of L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts influence. However, the Theatre hasn't always been thought of as a historical landmark to be preserved.
In the 1920s, the Theatre hosted vaudeville acts and live theatrical performances, before being converted into a movie theatre with so much of its beauty and elegance hid from view. When the 1950s rolled around, it became known as the "Sack" (Saxon), a run-down building showing X rated films in the middle of Boston's Combat Zone-an adult entertainment district.
But in 1983, it was purchased by Emerson College with the intention to restore her back to her majesty. Emerson College brought the Majestic back to life with the final restorations complete in 2003. The Cutler Majestic Theatre, finally back to its original magnificence.
The Boston Landmarks Commission unanimously voted last night to designate the Staxon Theatre on Tremont Street a historic landmark, a move that could stifle a plan to turn the 83-year-old building into condominiums.
Today, the Cutler Majestic Theatre is a first-class performance venue, hosting opera, theatre, dance, and music for Boston's cultural community. The Theatre's resilience has given it a life of its own, breathing grace and splendor into Boston's culture and history.
The Cutler Majestic Theatre is located at 219 Tremont Street in Boston. Stop by to experience a world-class production and the magic of Howard's original vision. You will be greeted by the Theatre's ornate gold leaf, marble, brass, stained glass windows, and murals by William de Leftwich Dodge. And probably a few ghosts, too!