About the Member
The Cabot, which opened in December 1920, was built by The Ware Brothers and is one of only 250 historic vaudeville/movie palaces remaining in the U.S.
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.
In 1944, the venue was leased to movie chain giant E.M. Loew’s which eventually purchased it in 1962, and 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. Thanks to the efforts of the five “founders,” The Cabot was saved: Henry Bertolon, Bill Howard, Rich Marino, Thad Siemasko, and Paul Van Ness. Soon after, a board of directors was also formed.
Over the first 15 months of operations, community engagement with the Cabot was truly phenomenal as expressed in donations, volunteer hours, and attendance at live music events and film screenings.
In October 2015, the new Cabot board welcomed its first Executive Director, J. Casey Soward. Prior to joining The Cabot, Casey worked in leadership positions for a variety of performing arts organizations, educational institutions, and theaters, beginning his career working on the stage crew at the historic Orpheum Theatre and in Boston when he was a student at Berklee College of Music.
Since then, The Cabot has welcomed thousands through its hallowed halls. In 2016, The Cabot embarked on a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation to not only restore parts of the theater to its original 1920s grandeur, but to upgrade and modernize all current systems to better enhance the live experience. This included replacement of all theater seating, opera box restoration, new sound and stage lighting systems, new heating and air conditioning, and most recently, the completion of the lobby renovation and restoration of the original rose window.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 forced The Cabot to close its doors, the theater has kept its magic thriving. Between outdoor concerts in the summer/fall at Hale Farm, a virtual 100th anniversary celebration that welcomed over 22,000 viewers (with performances from James Taylor, Grace Potter, Fantastic Negrito, and more), and plans to launch an entertainment streaming service in 2021, The Cabot continues to deliver the arts to our North Shore community.