Deep in the heart of Boston, a secret has been kept 40 feet below street level. For more than 70 years it has been hidden from the public eye…
A 120-year-old concert hall, reminiscent of Italian Renaissance style.
Looking at the unassuming storefront of piano seller M. S. Steinert & Sons, one would never guess that a concert hall is deep under its floors.
Much less Steinert Hall, a space that was once hailed as the “headquarters for the musical and artistic world of cultured Boston”. Today, it’s nothing more than a crypt for old pianos and their spare parts.
The theater was built by Alexander Steinert, a first-generation immigrant who had longed dreamed of owning a concert hall and piano shop in the same building. He chose the underground location to create an “acoustically perfect” space that was buried deep enough to muffle out sounds of the busy Boston streets above.
World-renowned pianists and singers have performed on Steinert Hall’s stage, but not a chord has been struck since 1942, the year a deadly fire at the Cocoanut Grove changed Boston’s entertainment scene forever.
492 people perished in what would be remembered as the deadliest nightclub fire of all time. Immediately, underground spaces became subject to strict fire regulations. With no money to comply with the new codes, Steinert Hall closed its doors.
While the Steinert family’s ground-level piano shop flourished, the forgotten theater below existed only as an urban legend. Bostonians heard the whisper of a subterranean concert hall, but few believed that it was actually there.
In 2011, blogger Greig Lamont published the article A Project in Ruins, featuring pictures of the mysterious theater. Apparently, Lamont gained access to the theater via the building’s maintenance man. He said: “Despite being in a bad state of disrepair much of the original plaster, stonework and paint survives, which the top balcony provided a perfect vantage point to inspect from.”
Today, in-the-know musicians such as Elton John occasionally request tours of Steinert Hall, but the theater remains closed to the public. The safety risks are too high, and with the necessary renovations priced at $6 million, it’s doubtful that the space will ever re-open.
However, now that pictures have surfaced, this theater will live on in our minds forever. Too see more, take a virtual tour in this short video below:
Credit: Messy Nessy Chic