News & Updates

Boston's Washington Street Theaters Receive National Historic Preservation Honor Award

Oct 21, 2011

Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined representatives from Boston’s historical preservation community, Emerson College, and Suffolk University in Buffalo, New York to accept the esteemed Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the restoration of Boston’s Washington Street theaters.  The project is one of 23 award winners honored by the National Trust during its 2011 National Preservation Conference.  There will also be a local celebration of the award at the Boston Opera House on Monday, October 24. “This award and the successful preservation of these historic theaters in the heart of Boston is a tribute to what true collaboration can accomplish,” Mayor Menino said.  “In recognizing the importance of investing in these special buildings, Suffolk, Emerson, and our partners have not only restored a unique piece of Boston history, but helped revitalize the Theater District and expanded opportunities for art and education in Boston.” The Boston Redevelopment Authority has facilitated and encouraged investment in the preservations by companies and institutions.  The agency’s attentiveness to the restoration of the theaters has been key to the uptick in activity on Washington Street, an energy that spreads through Downtown Crossing where 50 new businesses have opened in the last two years. The Boston Opera House, Paramount and Modern theaters were lavish palaces when they first opened in the early 20th century, but by the 1970s they had fallen into disrepair.  In 1995 the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the theaters on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places. Emerson College now operates the Paramount Theater while Suffolk University has restored the Modern Theatre, and the Boston Opera House is one of the busiest theaters in New England.  The surrounding area has also experienced a resurgence, with more than 40 new restaurants and businesses opened in Downtown Crossing in the last year. “We are deeply honored that the National Trust for Historic Preservation has chosen to recognize Emerson,” said Emerson College President Lee Pelton. “Sixteen years ago the Trust listed Boston’s historic theaters among America’s most endangered historic places, and now the area is revived and bustling with students and arts lovers alike. We are proud to have been a part of this renaissance.” “Suffolk University is honored to receive the National Trust for Historic Preservation Award for its restoration of the Modern Theatre,” said Acting President and Provost Barry Brown.  “The University has been a proud partner in Boston’s efforts to revitalize the Lower Washington Street Theater district while preserving the historic integrity of landmark buildings and bringing a new sense of life, culture and activity to this area.” “We are fortunate to live in a city that is not only rich with historic spaces, but led by individuals like Mayor Menino, corporations and non-profits who care about preserving and restoring these treasures,” said Sarah Kelly, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance.  “The collaboration we undertook to assure that these theaters were revitalized serves as a model for maximizing other opportunities for preserving historic properties throughout the city.” The award was presented to the Mayor’s Office of the City of Boston at the National Preservation Awards ceremony in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, October 20, at 5:30 PM EST. Co-recipients are: Boston Landmarks Commission; The Boston Opera House; Boston Parks and Recreation; Boston Preservation Alliance; Boston Redevelopment Authority; Elkus-Manfredi Architects; Emerson College and Suffolk University. For more information about the National Trust for Historic Preservation, visit

Share This Article:

Subscribe to our News & Updates

*indicates required
First Name : Last Name :
Zip Code : *Email: