It#039;s going to be like night and day

by Beacon Staff • April 12, 2006

As Emerson prepares to make its final move completing its "Campus on the Common," a vision set in motion in 1988 after the college abandoned failed attemps at establishing a new campus in Lawrence and a law school in Lowell, The Beacon takes a look back at what the West Side once was and what our new home in the Theatre District has and will become.

132 Beacon St.

As Emerson's smallest dormitory, 132 Beacon St. houses about 75 students, according to the Emerson Web site at emerson.edu.

According to emerson.edu, the quaint brownstone building was purchased in 1964. It offered students the chance to live in the Performing Cultures community.

According to the 2005-2006 Emerson catalogue, this community is where students can learn how to perform based on "aesthetic, cultural and social scientific perspectives."

6 Arlington St.

The dorm at 6 Arlington St. was purchased in 1988 for $11 million. According to brownstonian.com, it is now on sale for $16,900,000.

At the time of the purchase, Emerson and the Katharine Gibbs school were to share some of the facilities. The Katharine Gibbs school was a division of Macmillan Publishing Co., according to an article that ran in The Boston Globe on Jan. 9, 1988 after Emerson had purchased the site.

The building is a bit smaller than 100 Beacon St., and is 10 stories tall, housing 160 residents. When Emerson bought 6 Arlington St., the college was housing 30 students at the Eliot Hotel at 370 Commonwealth Ave.

Plans to relocate Emerson College to Lawrence, Mass. were in the works the year 6 Arlington St. was purchased. The land Emerson wanted to build on in Lawrence was originally going to be taken by eminent domain, which meant the land could be taken without the owner's consent. When real estate values in Boston diminished and the costs of building a new campus went up, the plans of relocation were put on hold by former college President Allen E. Koenig.When Koenig resigned in 1989, the relocation plans went with him. Twenty years later, the school is still short on student housing, with more than 80 students being housed at the Doubletree Hotel.

100 Beacon St.

100 Beacon St. was originally an apartment building, built between 1924 and 1925, according to Robert Fleming, assistant director for archives and access services in the Emerson library.

Emerson purchased its first piece of real estate at 373 Commonwealth Ave. in 1928. The building served as a dormitory for women. 373 Commonwealth Ave. is now home to private condominiums.

In 1960, Emerson sold the building to fund the purchase of the building at 100 Beacon St., using it as a dormitory instead.At the time, enrollment at Emerson stood at 609 undergrads and 29 graduate students. 100 Beacon St. is currently the second largest dorm at Emerson, housing 220 undergrads. It is currently for sale at a price of $18,500,000, according to brownstonian.com.

96 Beacon St.

In 1964, Emerson purchased 96 Beacon St. for use as a Student Union.

The building was formally dedicated on Jan. 8, 1965. Since then, The Student Union has been the home of the offices of Student Life, Housing and Residence Life and the Student Government Association, as well as several meeting rooms and rehearsal spaces. Several student performances have also taken place in the Student Union.

After the sale of 126/130 Beacon St. in 2003, a number of student offices, including that of The Beacon, were moved to the Student Union Annex in the Walker Building at 120 Boylston St.

Those organizations in the Annex now, however, will be reunited with others soon.

This fall, the Piano Row building at 150 Boylston St. is set to function as the new Student Union for Emerson.

Little Building at 80 Boylston St.

The Little Building houses 750 Emerson students, serving as Emerson's largest dormitory. It was built in 1917 on the site of Boston's first apartment house, the Hotel Pelham.

All 12 stories were once used as an office site for doctors, dentists, magazine publishers and advertisement firms. The ground floor, which is now the location of Emerson's bookstore and several student service offices, was inhabited by a number of small retail shops, according to historical documents held by Emerson.

The Little Building was very much like a city in itself. It had its own post office and published its own newspaper, and underground passageways connected to subways and theatres in the area. Emerson purchased 80 Boylston St. in 1994, and was opened to students in the fall of 1995.

Ansin Building at 180 Tremont St.

Since it was built in 1931 as the headquarters for the Edison Electric Company, the Ansin Building, at 180 Tremont St., has welcomed national figures like former President Ronald Reagan and singer Frank Sinatra. That was in the 1950s, when it housed radio station WEEI, said Robert Fleming, assistant director for archives and access services in the Emerson library.

Fleming said the Ansin Building was named after Edmund Ansin, and Emerson purchased it from a California bank in 1992. The addition marked the college's first major foray into the blossoming midtown Theatre District for office and classroom space, following the 1983 acquisition of the Cutler Majestic Theatre.

Emerson's student-run radio station WERS moved to the Ansin Building shortly thereafter, from its former location at 128 Beacon St. In addition to WERS, the Ansin Building also holds Emerson's Office of Information Technology, all of the college's Visual and Media Arts labs, offices and facilities, offices for Writing, Literature and Publishing departments and campus radio station WECB.

The Ansin Building also has 3D computer labs, Digital Production labs, the Media Services Center and the Equipment Distribution Center.

Cutler Majestic Theatre

The Cutler Majestic Theatre is the second oldest theatre in downtown Boston, and Emerson's grand theatrical jewel has served many purposes in its time.

The Majestic, which was originally designed for opera and theatre, was completed in 1903.

Its design is said to combine "plain old Yankee ingenuity" and "classical perfection," according to the venue's Web site at maj.org.

The Majestic was the first to be designed with electric lighting as newly-invented light bulbs were used to accent the tall columns, towering arches and stained glass on the building's fa