Suffolk University’s C. Walsh Theatre – a short history

The C. Walsh Theatre closed in May 2016. Located at 55 Temple Street on Beacon Hill, the theatre was Suffolk University’s primary performance and presentation venue.

Suffolk University founder Gleason Archer built the theatre in the early 1920s to accommodate large gatherings of Suffolk Law School students. Revenues from its daytime use as a movie theatre financed Law School operations. The building’s marquee boasted of having the “largest pipe organ in New England.”

In its most recent renovation in 2006-2007, the theatre’s color and design elements reflected the warm intimacy of the original venue, location in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, and the youthful energy of the University and its students.

Many esteemed guests appeared at the C. Walsh Theatre during its 90+ year history, including:

  • Nobel Prize winners Shirin Ebadi (Peace) and Derek Walcott (Poetry)
  • Congressional candidate John F. Kennedy
  • Supreme Court Chief Justices William O. Douglas and Clarence Thomas
  • Scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute
  • Robert Brustein, scholar, playwright, and founder of the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard
  • Human rights activists Coretta Scott King and Samantha Power
  • National Book Critic’s Circle Award winner Maxine Hong-Kingston
  • Pulitzer Prize winning composer John Harbison, pianists Russell Sherman and Robert Levin, and opera director Sarah Caldwell
  • Academy Award winning actor Jane Wyman and nominees Greer Garson and Felicity Huffman; novelist and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter John Irving; actors Ed Begley, Jr., Christopher McCann, Jennifer Westfeldt, and Paul Guilfoyle; and filmmakers Frederick Wiseman and Tamara Jenkins
  • Tony Award winning composers William Finn and Jeanine Tesori

The C. Walsh Theatre has hosted visiting professional performing artists and arts organizations, including:

  • Hagoromo – “The Feather Robe” – presented by the Kanze School of Noh Theatre, JapanĀ 
  • Classical ensemble Emmanuel Music presenting the work of Franz Schubert
  • Me Am I – presented by the Milwaukee Dance Theatre
  • Requiem for Srebrenica, a production of the French director Olivier Py and Centre Dramatique National
  • Moll presented by OPENINGS Theatre Company of Dublin
  • Collage New Music’s presentation of cutting-edge modern classical music
  • United States premiere presentation of the Daita International Nagauta Music Ensemble of Tokyo
  • The American Repertory Theatre’s Obie-award winning production of The Cryptogram