|Exterior shot of the Fenway Theater.|
|The ticket window of the Fenway Theatre circa 1917.|
When Lawrence Berk purchased the former Hotel Bostonian at 1140 Boylston Street in 1965, he expected that it would adequately house the college for many years to come. But as enrollment swelled from 584 in 1966 to 1,707 in 1972, the 80,000 square-foot building could not meet the college's space and facility needs, chief among them the need for a concert hall.
So when the Bryant and Stratton School offered the former Sherry Biltmore Hotel at 150 Massachusetts Avenue and the adjoining Fenway Theatre for sale in 1972, the Berklee administration and the Board of Trustees looked at the opportunity to acquire the property with a mixture of hope and anxiety. Purchase of the 240,000 square-foot hotel and the 37,500 square-foot theater at one stroke solved many of the college’s emerging space needs.
The marvelous 1915 movie palace, created by theater designer Thomas Lamb, was completely modernized, the stage was enlarged and an acoustic ceiling installed. Recording studios, and ensemble and rehearsals studios were built below stage level.
The renovated theater was rechristened the Berklee Performance Center and grand opening ceremonies took place on April 5, 1976. In his dedication address, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis called the new 1,227-seat facility "an outstanding contribution to the cultural resources of the city and state."
Since 1976, as Berklee courses and majors diversified, the Performance Center has provided a laboratory for student performers, producers, and recording engineers. "We see the Performance Center as a giant classroom where people can learn about performing and the technical side of presenting a show," says Rob Rose.
Today, the Berklee Performance Center hosts approximately 200 events per year.