Cutler Majestic Theater

Boston, MA

This acoustically superb opera house was built in 1903. It’s now owned by Emerson College and is a popular venue in Boston’s theater district.  Designed by John Galen Howard in the Beaux-Arts style, the Majestic was originally decorated by Pennell & Haberstroth but was later completely painted over.  EverGreene made a mock-up of the historic decorative painting scheme based on rigorous paint analysis and archival research.  Complete restoration of the decorative painting involving polychromy, gilding, glazing, stenciling, and marbleizing.  The scope of work also included extensive plaster repair, restoration, and fabrication of scagliola.

Photos showed that textiles were an important feature of the decor, but none of the original decorative valances, draperies, or upholstery remained. Side boxes in the theater were elaborately draped with large embroidered valances that would be beyond the budget to reproduce. EverGreene recreated their appearance more economically by painting the design on fabric. The design process began with drawings and maquettes by EverGreene. Artists painted small samples on fabric to show the colors and techniques. A full-scale sample valance was hung in one of the boxes for the client to view adjacent to the decorative painting mockup. The drapery fabric, as well as fabric for upholstered handrails and capping, was selected by searching among suppliers for the best match to small fragments of the original material.

The damask fabric on the walls, also long gone, had a pattern that contributed to the overall décor.  Custom weaving, or purchase of similar damask, was beyond the client’s budget.  EverGreene designers figured out the scale of the pattern using clues from archival photos, and with the aid of computer modeling, emulated the pattern using decorative painting techniques.  Silk-screened samples were selected by the client and Elkus/Manfredi Architects, and the damask patterns were reproduced throughout the theatre.