The 1,100 seat Somerville Theatre originally opened on May 11, 1914 in Somerville, Massachusetts. The architecture firm of Funk and Wilcox, who also designed the Strand and Franklin Park Theatres, designed it. It was part of the Hobbs Building, which also had a bowling alley, a billiards hall, a basement cafe, and a 700-person dance hall, the Hobbs Crystal Ballroom.
Originally designed for vaudeville, stage shows and films, the fallout from the Great Depression forced the theater into primarily showing motion pictures beginning in 1932. Like many theaters of this era, The Somerville held gimmicks, such as dish night or appliance giveaways, to get people to come to a show. During the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, films would open in the downtown Boston theaters, and then open in neighborhood cinemas like the Somerville a week or so later.
Unlike many historic movie palaces, the Somerville Theatre was never closed for long periods of time. It became a revival house in 1982, often showing double features and independent films. In the mid-1980s, The Fraiman family purchased The Hobbs Building, and came up with a plan to keep the theater competitive with modern multiplexes. They turned the unused portions of the building, such as the bowling alley, billiards hall, and the ballroom into new screens to show films.
The Somerville Theatre closed in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, screens 4 & 5 were removed and the Crystal Ballroom was restored. The theater reopened on September 17, 2021 and the Ballroom reopened on October 8, 2021.
Matt Lambros MA Somerville Jan 31, 2022 Architecture