Herter Park Amphitheater

Herter Park Amphitheater, located on the south bank of the Charles River in Allston, is poised to become one of Boston’s most beloved venues for performing arts and civic discourse. With a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system and room for 500 people sitting on benches or on the grassy slopes overlooking the stage, this space offers an intimate, accessible alternative to the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. The Friends of Herter Park have restored the space and are managing it on behalf of the DCR.

Background: The abandoned amphitheater located in Herter Park was built as the center piece of the Metropolitan Boston Arts Center – an early public/private cultural partnership from the late 1950s.  (The Lincoln Center in New York is another example of such a partnership from that time that went on to fame and glory.) Older members of the Allston community remember as children the bulldozers digging the moat and shaping the steep slopes to form the amphitheater in the late 1950s. In the car centric fifties and sixties, The Metropolitan Boston Arts Center never caught on due to its isolation from the city center, but today the theatre is easily accessed by foot and bicycle from trail along the river. The Publick Theatre came in 1971 to operate a summer outdoor theatre program in the amphitheater. The Publick Theatre presented two major shows a summer in July and August, handed out bug juice to keep the mosquitoes away, sold beer and wine at their concession stand, and had a devoted local audience. One of the factors leading to their decision to cease operations was their inability to pay for expensive upgrades to the onsite electrical system. The site lay unused for years and the Herter Center building was eventually vacated as well. The Friends of Herter Park was formed in 2015 for the purpose of restoring the amphitheater and revitalizing the public programs in the space to serve the vibrant and growing Allston community.

Timeline
DateMilestone
2014Began scoping following the success of Greenough Greenway
2015Ad Hoc working group formed
2016Harvard-Allston Public Realm Flexible Fund grant
2017Reclamation of the amphitheater begins with volunteers
2018New lighting system installed
2018First season managed by the Friends of Herter Park
2019New Sound system acquired from Bose
2019MOU between DCR and the Friends of Herter Park signed
2019Second full season managed by the Friends of Herter Park

Project Details

Initiated
  • 2015
Solomon and Barr Investments
  • $ 71,000
Partner Investments to date
  • $50,000
Estimated Cost to Complete
  • TBD
Key Partners
Consultants
  • None so far
Status

Essential restoration complete, Full programing underway

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