Photos by Cheryl Landes
The Cabot, a historic theater in Beverly, Massachusetts, is accepting applications for artists to work on a large mural project. The theater has formed a partnership with Beyond Walls to install murals on the exterior walls.
“We aim to create a mural installation that reflects The Cabot’s past, present, and future, while remaining fully encapsulated in our exciting present course as a vibrant performing arts center which presents world-class films and live performances in our beautiful historic theater,” reads a statement on The Cabot’s mural project page. “By involving the community in the planning process, we will ensure these murals best reflect the people of Beverly, as well as The Cabot’s rich history as a performing arts venue.”
The Cabot’s partner, Beyond Walls, is based in nearby Lynn, Massachusetts. Beyond Walls works “with local organizations, municipalities, community members, and expert consultants to design, produce, and manage projects/programs that infuse public art and creative experiences into underutilized or overlooked spaces.”
The Cabot is among 250 vaudeville and silent movie palaces remaining from the 1920s, when some 20,000 were in operation. In 1960, movie chain giant E.M. Loews bought the theater and renamed it the Cabot Cinema. Loews sold the theater in 1976 to Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company, which performed magic acts to appreciative audiences every week for 37 years.
When the magic shows ended in 2013 and the theater was placed on the market again, its future became uncertain. Local business owners and residents were afraid the building would be replaced with condos. They formed a non-profit group and started a community campaign to save the theater. In 2014, enterpreuer and philanthropist Henry Bertolon bought the building for $1.2 million with the understanding that the non-profit group would eventually buy back the building. A year later, a board of directors was formed.
The group opened the theater immediately to show movies and started bringing in live entertainment. They raised money to renovate the interior to its original grandeur. Now, the theater features a mix of movies and live entertainment. More well-known performing artists have noticed the beautiful venue and fantastic acoustics and are scheduling appearances.
Renovations on the interior were mostly complete, the announcer shared with the audience, but I could not see anything that looked unfinished. While I sat inside the beautifully restored auditorium, I felt transported to the 1920s.
The non-profit group had come a long way by then. It even raised enough money to buy the theater from Bertolon. He still serves on the board.
At intermission, when the curtain closed on the stage, the announcer said that we were looking at the theater’s original fire curtain. During the restoration project, crews found it in storage, completely intact.
The Cabot’s original fire curtain
The Cabot set up a fundraising campaign to raise $15,000 for the new mural project and achieved its goal today. A donor agreed to contribute another $5,000 toward the project if The Cabot could raise $15,000. The campaign ends on Friday, April 20.
For more information about the mural project, to apply to create a mural, or to donate, visit The Cabot’s mural project page. The deadline for mural artist applications is Wednesday, May 1.
Check the movie and live entertainment schedules at The Cabot’s events page.