The Cabot Theatre is a North Shore treasure, a legacy of the visionary showmanship and architectural passion of the Ware Brothers. The theatre opened on December 8, 1920 as a dream palace for vaudeville and silent movies and it was hailed as “the most impressive auditorium of its size east of New York.” Known then as The Ware Theater, it shared a distinguished architectural pedigree, designed by the architects of Boston’s Athenaeum and Olympia Theater and Dorchester’s Strand Theater. For its first 40 years, it served as a center of community life for downtown Beverly.
The venue was purchased in 1960 by movie chain giant E.M. Loews, who renamed it the Cabot Cinema. A unique and remarkable transformation began in 1976 when it was purchased by Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company. For 37 years, The Cabot hosted Le Grand David’s long-running magic show that entertained local audiences, made seven White House appearances and won recognition in the Guinness Book of Records and the magazines of TIME, Smithsonian and National Geographic World.
No ordinary building, The Cabot is a rare survivor. Only about 250 similar movie palaces still exist out of an estimated 20,000 theaters built in the 1920s. But its future came into doubt when the Magic Company wound down and they placed the theater up for sale. Luckily, and thanks to Chianti Ristorante owner Rich Marino’s efforts, the Theatre was purchased by Henry Bertolon in 2014 in order to save it from bulldozers. A board of directors was formed.
In October 2015, the new Cabot board welcomed its first Executive Director, Casey Soward, a seasoned arts management executive, sound and lighting engineer, producer, all-around-great-guy and resident of Swampscott, Massachusetts. “The Cabot is the cultural center of the City of Beverly,” noted Casey. “With the recent launch of the Cabot as a performing arts presenting organization, we have the opportunity to do incredible work together as a community.”