Tremont Theatre - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
N 42° 21.393 W 071° 03.705
19T E 330203 N 4691423
Quick Description: Once a theater built in 1827, but redesigned in 1896 by Clarence H. Blackall, architect for 14 theaters in Boston, this building is home to a thriving multi-cultural church in the heart of Boston, near St. Pauls Episcopal Cathedral and Park St Church
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 10/1/2009 7:54:10 AM
Waymark Code: WM7BHP
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member SowerMan
Views: 9

Long Description:

This historic theatre, now a church, can be easy to miss with a facade flush with the surrounding buildings. But, it is on the same street within a block of the more noticeable and famous Park Street Congregational Church with its towering 217-foot steeple, and the St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral Church with its unique Greek Revival architecture. But, this church had a long history in the abolitionist movement, claiming to be the first integrated church in America. And, it continues to serve the multi-ethnic urban population of downtown Boston with vital ministries.

From the church web site Tremont Temple Baptist Church

The early nineteenth century was a turbulent and painful time in our nation's history. It was the custom during this time for churches to charge rent for the use of pews - a practice that excluded many people from attending worship. In 1838, a group of men who longed for a church with free seats began meeting to pray and discuss the matter. Mr. Timothy Gilbert was chosen as chairman.

The Baptist Free Church, organized in 1839 with eighty-two charter members, conducted its first public worship in Tremont Hall, 31 Tremont St. in December 1838. Membership grew rapidly as they moved to Congress Hall at the corner of Milk and Congress, and then to Tremont Chapel on the corner of Bromfield and Tremont.

Mr. Gilbert purchased the Tremont Theatre in 1843, determined to "transform the theatre into a temple of God." Called Tremont Street Baptist Church and later Union Temple Baptist Church, the name Tremont Temple Baptist Church was adopted in 1891.

In 1850, the Baptist Free Church passed a resolution that all slaves be respected, cared for, and protected - in adamant defiance of the Fugitive Slave Law in effect at the time.

The church endured three devastating fires: 1852, 1879 and 1893. The fourth and present building was dedicated in 1896. The present building originally had stores on the ground floor and commercial offices on the upper floors. Revenue from business rents and rental of the auditorium for concerts enabled the church to continue to provide free seats to all worshipers.

Tremont Temple remains committed to the founders' vision of "a church with free seats, where every[one], rich or poor, white or black, should be on the same religious level and the Sabbath home for the stranger and the traveler."

Tremont Temple

Tremont Temple was once the renowned Tremont
Theatre. Most of the famous actors, singers
and lecturers of the day performed here.
John Gilbert, Jenny Lind, Daniel Webster and
Charles Dickens all made appearances.

In 1843, the Theatre became the Temple when
the Free Baptist Society bought it. It was the first
integrated church in Boston, the first to provide
free seats, and it was called the "Pulpit of
America" by Dwight L. Moody, the famous
evangelist. The Temple burned three times. The
present building was constructed in 1896.

Commercial District

Boston 200

History of the old theater building and its transformation into a church can be found in this Wikipedia Entry.

Tremont Theatre, Boston

The Tremont Theatre on 88 Tremont Street was a playhouse in Boston. A group of wealthy Boston residents financed the building's construction. Architect Isaiah Rogers designed the structure in the Greek Revival style. The playhouse opened on 24 September 1827.

The Tremont never turned a profit during its 16-year life. On 28 December 1843, the Free Church Baptists bought the theatre and renamed it the Tremont Temple. Although the building was largely used for religious events after this, it still served as the venue for public events on occasion. Sam Houston gave a speech there against slavery on 22 February 1855.

The existing structure opened in May 1896. Designed by architect Clarence Blackall, it was intended to be a church with an auditorium suitable for business purposes. At various times, films were exhibited at Tremont Temple, though commercial leasing ended in 1956. However, the auditorium was used December 31, 1985, for a staged production of the opera "The Burning Fiery Furnace" by Benjamin Britten.

Theater Name: Tremont Theatre

Country: United States

88 Tremont St.
Boston, MA United States

Web Site: [Web Link]

Venue: Other (specify in narrative)

Type of Productions:
Historic Theatre

Restored Building: yes

Date of Construction: 1827

Architect/Designer: Isaiah Rogers / Clarence H. Blackall

Special Productions/Events/Festivals:
Historic theatre now used as a church

Stage Type: Not listed

Seating Capacity: Not Listed

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