The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 7, 2003


Maynard's Fine Arts Theatre brings back top-of-the-line films

For those film buffs living in Carlisle, looking for some of the classier films recently released and showing in the area has meant a trip to the West Newton Cinema, the Embassy Cinema in Waltham or the Lexington Flick. Now, however, the Fine Arts Theatre at 19 Summer Street in Maynard, which showed wonderful foreign and independent films back in the '60s and '70s, has returned to the quality films that once drew a crowd of serious moviegoers to Maynard.

As I waited in the lobby of the Fine Arts Theatre several weeks ago to speak to the new manager, David Shea of Deco Entertainment, a Dartmouth, Massachusetts-based business that renovates and builds cinemas up and down the eastern seaboard, I couldn't help but notice the enticing films being advertised along the lobby wall: Chicago, Nicholas Nickleby, Frida, The Hours, The Pianist, and for kids Shanghai Knights and Daredevil. Obviously, under the new management there would be films for the discerning viewer as well as for the younger crowd.

Photo by Ellen Huber

Shea, a partner and member of the family that runs Deco, explained that during the eighties and nineties, "mall theatres" with their 12 to 16 screens were being built by Regal, AMC, and General Cinema. They were, as Shea described them, "big, noisy, bright and expensive." By the late '90s and into 2001, they had been overbuilt and many closed. There is speculation that the recent closing of Hoyt's Acton Cinema on Route 2A may have been a victim of such circumstances.

Renovation begins

In November, Deco leased the Maynard Theatre from Bob and Linda Flint, who had run the theatre for the past 10 to 12 years. The Coughlin family, headed by Linda's grandfather, had opened the theatre in 1949. The Sheas have been renovating the building and its three screens · Cinema 1 with 380 seats, Cinema 2 with 90 seats and Cinema 3 with 160 seats. Renovations will include changing all seating and adding spaces between seats, a larger screen in Cinema 1, digital sound, new carpets, new heating and air conditioning, and a new roof for the building. The Chinese wall hanging on either side of the screen in Cinema 1 will be preserved, as will the Chinese murals along the hall between the cinemas.

The Shea family plans to organize many of the theatre's old artifacts, dating back to the '40s and '50s, into a mini-museum in the area that was once the second box office, next door to the 17 Summer Street Restaurant.

Those of us living in Carlisle during the '70s and early '80s will remember some of the wonderful films shown in Maynard at that time · Walkabout by the Australian director Nicholas Roeg; Aguirre, the Wrath of God directed by Werner Herzog of Germany; and My Dinner with André by Louis Malle. The theatre, which sold thirty-ticket discount cards, also sent out a flyer at the beginning of each month, listing the films to be shown. On any Friday or Saturday night, inside the theatre, or if you stood in line for a ticket, you were bound to see friends and neighbors from Carlisle.

As for the Fine Arts Theatre location, the neighborhood couldn't be more inviting. Across the street from the theatre is a two-story free public parking garage which eliminates the need to circle 'round and 'round the block looking for a parking space.

Besides the 17 Summer Street Restaurant next door, around the corner on Nason Street and up and down Main Street is a collection of good and interesting restaurants · Thai Chilli at 40 Main Street; Babico's Cafe at 35, rear, Nason Road; Boston Bean House on the corner of Nason and Main; Quarterdeck Seafoods at 177 Main Street; Rio Cafe Steakhouse at 51 Main Street · to name a few.

A town on the upswing

Maynard, the former home of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) during the heyday of the theatre, went into recession once the company closed. These days, however, the town is being revitalized and the Fine Arts Theatre is one sign of this small town's comeback. Now when people come through the theatre's front door Shea hears · "It's not a zoo;" "There's parking across the street;" "It's a more relaxed atmosphere, not like a mall theatre." "Patrons are looking for classy movies," says Shea. "They want to go back to the roots of real movies. A movie like Chicago is a breath of fresh air, like the ones we used to see in the '50s, '60s and '70s."

Instead of taking a video out of the local video store, there is now another choice, that of having an evening out in a real movie theatre showing top-of-the line movies, with the option of dinner beforehand or afterwards. I'll go for that!

The Fine Arts Theatre advertises in The Boston Globe and information on movies and times may be had by calling 1-978-897-8100.

To get to Maynard, take Route 62 through West Concord or Route 27 through Acton. It is about 11 miles from Carlisle Center and takes about 25 minutes to get there.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito