Theatre History

Fine Arts Theatre Place History

Did you know that Fine Arts Theatre Place was once a stable for the town’s horses? The Theatre opened in 1949, but the building’s history stretches back to 1897! Scroll through our timeline to learn about the site’s remarkable past.

1897 – The Town Stables

1897 – The Town Stables

James A. Coughlan opens Coughlan’s Livery and Feed, a stable and hacking business, where the Theatre now stands. The Coughlan family would adapt the building’s business as transportation and entertainment evolved. (Photo: Maynard Historical Society)

1911 – Automobiles Arrive in Metro West

1911 – Automobiles Arrive in Metro West

As the automobile comes to Metro West, Coughlan adds a garage to his stables operation, the first garage in Maynard. Pictured here is the first automobile in town, owned by Charles H. Persons. Massachusetts Governor John L. Bates rides in back. (Photo: Maynard Historical Society)

April 1911 – Boston and Maine Railroad Wreck

April 1911 – Boston and Maine Railroad Wreck

Coughlan continues to sell the new automobile, though trains remain a major mode of transportation. A derailment of the Boston and Maine Railroad at the upper end of High Street injures several people in April 1911. (Photo: Maynard Historical Society)

1916-1940s – Motorcars and Movies in Maynard

1916-1940s – Motorcars and Movies in Maynard

Coughlan sells the livery to focus on the auto garage. He begins selling the Ford automobile and purchases a stake in the nearby People’s Theatre on Nason Street, which his son, Burton J. Coughlan, manages. (Photo: Maynard Historical Society)

1949 – Fine Arts Theatre Place Opens

1949 – Fine Arts Theatre Place Opens

A son’s dream comes true when Burton J. Coughlan decides not to carry on his father’s auto business and opens Fine Arts Theatre Place where the stables and garage once stood. The Theatre shows first-run and foreign films, and a “cry room” is built where mothers can take their children and still watch the films. (Photo: Maynard Historical Society)

1950s-1960s – The Age of Hollywood Magic

1950s-1960s – The Age of Hollywood Magic

Fine Arts Theatre Place becomes one of the highest grossing Walt Disney houses in the country and is a major entertainment venue for Metro West residents. The nearby People’s Theatre on Nason Street closes and FATP becomes the town’s beloved arts center. (Photo: Maynard Historical Society)

1990s-2000s – A Difficult Period

1990s-2000s – A Difficult Period

As the century comes to a close, competition from movie megaplexes hurts attendance and sales at small theatres, and Fine Arts Theatre Place falls into disrepair. It finally closes in 2012 and is put up for sale.

2012 – Steve Trumble Purchases Fine Arts Theatre Place

2012 – Steve Trumble Purchases Fine Arts Theatre Place

Steve Trumble, a local businessman and native of Sudbury, has been coming to Fine Arts Theatre Place since he was 12. Trumble purchases the theatre and pledges to restore it to its former glory.

2013-2014 – Renovations Begin

2013-2014 – Renovations Begin

The Theatre undergoes major renovations, replacing old, dangerous wiring and heating, leaky roofs, and waterlogged screens. Contractors use sonar to locate and remove decades-old oil drums from beneath the Theatre’s foundation. (Remember the old garage and car dealership?)

December 2014 – Hollywood Magic Returns to Metro West

December 2014 – Hollywood Magic Returns to Metro West

After 13 months and more than $1 million in restorations, Fine Arts Theatre Place reopens to the public on November 5, 2014. A Grand Opening celebration on December 5 attracts major press, state and local leaders, and more than 100 residents. A red carpet, classic cars, and rooftop searchlights bring back all the glamour of Metro West’s classic cinema.

August 2015 – Theatre 3 Opened After Final Renovations

August 2015 – Theatre 3 Opened After Final Renovations

After a year of operation with just 2 screens, The renovations to Theatre 3 were finalized and 126 new seats were installed. With the completion of Theatre 3, Fine Arts Theatre Place added 126 seats to bring the total seat count of Fine Arts Theatre to over 575 seats.

November 2017 – Handicap Bathroom Installed

November 2017 – Handicap Bathroom Installed

After the renovations that took place over the past 4 years, One aspect the theatre lacked was a handicap accessible bathroom. The decision was made to remove close to 20 seats from Theatre 1 in order to install a new, state of the art handicap accessible family bathroom.

March 2018

March 2018

After listening to all the feedback from our patrons over the years, it became clear the biggest complaint was the uncomfortable seating in Theatre 1. The common complaints were the feeling a spring going into your butt and, if you were taller than 5’9″, cup holders being jammed into your knees. 356 brand new seats were added including 2 handicap spots in a desirable location in the center of the theatre.