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The Colonial Will Remain A Theater; Emerson Finds An Alternative

Patrons exiting the Colonial Theatre after a show. (Jeremy D. Goodwin for WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Patrons exiting the Colonial Theatre after a show. (Jeremy D. Goodwin for WBUR)

Emerson College will not turn the Colonial Theatre into a student dining facility, but build one down the street at 122-124 Boylston St. and 19 Boylston Pl., the university announced Thursday.

In an email to the Emerson community, President Lee Pelton wrote, “The renovated and redesigned facility will have an exciting programmatic connection to 2 Boylston Place, the eighteen-story residence hall that is scheduled to open concurrently with this new facility."

"It's about a 50 percent increase in the space that we currently have in the Little Building," he added in an interview with WBUR's Newscast Unit, "and will seat twice as many students. It really represents or will represent the portal, the front porch if you want to call it, to the campus, and it establishes our identity along Boylston Street."

The dining facility was designed by Elkus Manfredi, the architectural firm that restored the Paramount Center and Cutler Majestic Theatre, among other Emerson buildings, a college release said.

The announcement follows the recommendation of an ad hoc committee established last November after controversy erupted when The Boston Globe reported the Colonial might be the site of the dining facility, though without changing the basic architecture of the theater.

Pelton also told WBUR, "Now we will turn our attention to programming the Colonial, and analyzing any repairs and renovations that need to take place there … I can't put a date certain on that, because we just have a lot of work to do."

Pelton, in the Emerson email, wrote, "I appreciate and remain touched by the interest that the performing arts communities and some of our faculty demonstrated in their commitment to the Colonial. We value the theater’s history and its beauty. We have a team of people working hard on studying the options for its continued use as a theater space.

“I am very grateful to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his team, including Joyce Linehan, Julie Burros, and John Barros, for their ongoing support and consultation,” he continued.

The Colonial Theatre has been closed since October.

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Ed Siegel Twitter ARTery Editor, Critic-At-Large
Ed Siegel is the editor and critic at large of The ARTery.

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