Calvin Theatre

19 King Street,
Northampton, MA 01060

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Showing 20 comments

Merrill on February 21, 2023 at 1:53 pm

My family attended the Calvin many times in the 40’s and 50’s. It was a big event because we lived in Chesterfield and rarely went anywhere in those days.. Our Dentist office was above where Jakes is now.
Are there any photos of the multi bulb flashing marquee? It was an eyecatcher to me.

tawisn on October 15, 2015 at 10:34 am

I wanted to ask Nicholas Thaw while working at Calvin theater if he had any supernatural experiences? I ask because I was there this past Saturday night to see Johnny Lang and was sitting by myself in the sixth row and something tap me on the shoulder three times and I turned around and nobody was there. It quite strange indeed. Btw, Jonny Lang and gang were absolutely fantastic. Thanks for bringing them to North Hampton!

nicholasthaw on April 18, 2015 at 9:20 am

I was the manager of the Calvin in the early ‘80’s. It was great! Dollar house, double features:(“Deliverance” & “Porky’s”: “Squeal like a pig” read the marquee.) We did the best we could with renovations, but there was no money… Great memories…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 19, 2015 at 9:28 pm

The May 10, 1924, issue of The Moving Picture World had a great deal to say about the new Calvin Theatre in Northampton:

“Calvin Theatre, Northampton, Mass., Features Beautiful Lighting Effects

“The newly-opened Calvin Theatre, Northampton, Mass., owned by Goldstein Brothers, is one of the best appointed and most modern houses in New England, and when its beautiful lighting effects are brought into play, especially the crimson-hued lattice-work lights, in addition to the purple-crimson crystal chandeliers, the effect is one of exquisite beauty. The color scheme of the theatre is old gold and grey. The scenic decorations about the theatre are the work of the William Eckart studios of New York. The auditorium ceiling, the work of Charles Stifter, noted New York sculptor, is of ornamental plaster, embellished with striking decorative effects.

“The theatre is located in King street at Merrick lane and the building opens free on all sides. It has a majestic approach and is visible for a long distance.

“The foundation of the building is of reinforced concrete; the roof of steel construction and the walls of brick.

“The entrance to the new Calvin is imposing, and its arch, when illuminated, is well silhouetted against the city’s night skyline.

“There is a marquise of special design with electric lights arranged on a flasher motor. The outer vestibule is of terrazzo and marble and contains poster and photograph display frames, especially constructed. The box office is in the center of the vestibule and is of marble with hand carved woodwork. It is equipped with two automatic ticket sellers.

“From the vestibule entering the lobby on the left side is an additional ticket office, which can be used in case of reserved seat sales in advance of the shows.

“Mezzanine Floor

“On either side of the rear of the orchestra floor are the grand marble staircases leading to the mezzanine floor and the balcony. From the mezzanine floor there is an easy approach to the balcony.

“The mezzanine floor also is of excellent construction, being of California gum-wood. Here are located the well-appointed women’s and men’s retiring rooms, private telephone booths, check rooms and manager’s office. The mezzanine lounge has drinking fountains and writing facilities and a true home-like atmosphere prevails there.

“More than 200 tons of steel alone were fabricated into the construction of the balcony. There are no posts and an unobstructed view is had of the stage from all seats on both floors.

“40-Foot Stage

“The Calvin has a 40-foot stage and proscenium opening 36 feet in length and 25 feet high. The stage is of ample size to accommodate any sort of road show.

“Many of the leading manufacturers of theatrical stage equipment were called upon by the Goldstein Brothers to make installations on the Calvin’s stage. The Worcester Electric and Manufacturing Company built the large stage switchboard, which is of the dead front type.

“The scenery for the Calvin was built by James Kennedy, who has charge of the Goldstein Brothers' scenic studios in Holyoke. Maurice Tuttle, scenic artist for the circuit, acted in that capacity for the Calvin and has turned out a veritable work of art. The main drop curtain has upon it a beautiful Yosemite Valley scene. It was executed from an enlarged photograph of an actual scene.”

gd14lawn on December 23, 2010 at 12:29 am

I was never here for a movie but it is a great concert venue. They filled in the orchestra pit and add additional seating for some concerts. For the more rock and roll concerts they use the front space as a dance floor.
The theatre is really lovely, with wood paneling throughout much of the house. It does seem to have a roof problem now. There is some water damage to the plaster in a few places. It seems to be very heavily booked and I hope they can fix it before the damage becomes extensive.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 17, 2010 at 11:51 am

There are 2 movie theaters listed under Northampton in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook. One is the Academy and the other is the “Coolidge” with 1000 seats and open daily. I guess that the Coolidge is actually the Calvin.

ERD on October 6, 2009 at 5:46 am

The photo is from 1976 since that is the date the movie on the marquee was released.

ERD on May 15, 2009 at 10:25 am

Just saw an interior photo of the restoration. The theatre looks beautiful.

ERD on May 15, 2009 at 10:19 am

The photo must be from 1986 since it is showing the movie DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS

spectrum on September 7, 2007 at 9:48 pm

The restoration of the auditorium was very well done. Unusual color scheme (yellow & gold primarily with various muted shades of green & white trim, but a whole lot better than the original appearance, and the color scheme extended to the formerly all dark brown ceiling. The place is certainly brightened up! The first thing i saw entering the outer lobby was they removed the drop ceiling of the 1960s, revealing the former two-story lobby ceiling which had been hidden for decades.

Nathan Goldstein had renovated the lobby areas in the early 1980s, and actually did a very good job – the walls were painted with cream color paint that must have had mica mixed in because the walls literally sparkeled (it was muted and tasteful, not ostentatious) – it really looked nice and I wish they had kept that effect in the latest renovation. But they still did a great job.

The Calvin showed 2nd run movies as far back as I could remember (1970s – of course all theatres in Amherst/Northampton were 2nd run in those days), and remained 2nd run when the Hadley malls finally became 1st run. Although they did get a 1st run of Star Trek: the Motion picture in 1979 (originally was to be the exclusive booking in the area but the malls got it too). This drew some good crowds – in the 600-700 range – but still not enough for them to open the balcony. I had to wait until 1980 and an arlo guthrie concert to get upstairs (still had seats from the 1930s up there!) When they started showing occasional concerts in the early 1980s it was reported that until the end stage had been unused since the 1920s.

Before ther renovation, it was mostly cream color and the wall columns had blue background with dingy gold paint sloppily applied over the decorative motifs (vines and fruit, a simpler version of some decorations at the wonderful Wang (nee Metropolitan) theatre in Boston, MA. ) The ceiling was a dark marblized brown color. The areas between the columns had square accoustic tiling in a nice harlqeuin (read tilted 45 degrees) pattern going up about a third of the way, which I (in my architectural ignorance of 20 years ago) assumed had been original with possibly damask fabric above (which actually wouldn’t look that bad – the walls are a little bare now).

shoshe on August 13, 2007 at 1:36 pm

The architect for the Calvin restoration is Thomas Douglas. You can get info and see images on the firms website, Look under “Perform”.

spectrum on March 27, 2007 at 7:24 pm

The Calvin has been beautifully restored. It never looked too shabby even in its final cinema days, but there was major work needed for the physical plant. They did an extensive job, and now the Calvin has a regular program of concerts, plays, musicals and even occasional films!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 21, 2005 at 7:53 am

The Calvin was designed by the firm of Mowll and Rand. It opened on April 17, 1924. In the 1940s, it was part of Western Massachusetts Theatres. The 1998 refurbishment work was supervised by Northampton architect Thomas Douglas. The Calvin’s website contains seating charts and a rough count of the seats which I made totalled about 1,350. With the smaller seat widths in the “old days' and closer pitch between rows, the original seat-count in 1924 could have been over 1700.

rnoyes on December 6, 2004 at 11:29 am

The first film I remember seeing at the Calvin was Annie in 1982. The last film I saw was Manhattan Murder Mystery at a “bargain” night shortly before the theatre’s temporary close. There were serious problems with the sound system and Woody and Diane often went silent in mid-sentence. This is either bad or good, depending on your opinion of the two.

I remember leaving the place feeling very bad for the venerable old movie house, as you could just tell there was a hint of grandeur left in the place but it had just been neglected for so long. I haven’t seen the place since its restoration and reopening, as most of their shows are too big-ticket for my wallet, but I’m glad to see it back in business.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on February 2, 2004 at 9:51 am

Check out our For Sale news category, Steve. It lists several theaters that are for sale.

irclc on February 2, 2004 at 8:50 am

Anyone know of a great theater that is in need of renovation and is for sale?

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on February 2, 2004 at 8:37 am

Thanks for letting us know, Roger. I’ve updated the link with the new address.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on January 28, 2004 at 9:48 am

The website listed above does not work. That official web page of the Calvin is

William on November 20, 2003 at 2:04 pm

As a movie theatre the Calvin Theatre seated 1739 people.