A Place for Community: Community Uses of Symphony Hall

Community-ExhibitA Place for Community:
Community Uses of Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall and the Boston Community

Throughout its history, Symphony Hall has opened its doors to a wide range of community organizations and institutions – serving as the site for numerous school concerts, university graduations, church services, inaugurations, holiday celebrations, public lectures, and charity balls.  The materials presented, drawn mainly from the Archives’ collection of programs of non-BSO events in Symphony Hall, provide a sampling of community events that took place in Symphony Hall between 1900 and 1950. 

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Featured Photographs and Documents
Click the images and links below to view the full documents.


Program of the inauguration of MIT President Henry Smith Pritchett, October 24, 1900 (PDF)
Pritchett’s inauguration was the first non-musical event to take place in Symphony Hall.

View the program and ticket for MIT’s June 5, 1928 graduation ceremony which also took place in Symphony Hall.

View the Graduation Program (PDF)| View the Graduation Ticket


Dance card for the charity ball of the Purim Association of Boston, January 15, 1901


Souvenir Program from a St. Patrick's Eve Festival, March 16, 1902 (PDF)
Hosted under the auspices of St. Cecilia's Church


Students of Somerville High School performed Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Symphony Hall, April 26, 1910 (PDF)


Dance Card for the Beth Israel Hospital Charity Ball, November 23, 1921
Many private and civic groups combined welfare and entertainment, sponsoring charity dances, lectures, and concerts at Symphony Hall.

View the Charity Ball Program (PDF)


Program of a Rendezvous of the Massachusetts Consistory of the Scottish Rite, February 27, 1923 (PDF)


Boston Public Schools Symphony Orchestra, 1923-1924

View the Concert Program (PDF)

Photograph by Dadmun Co.


Schedule of The Community Church of Boston activities in Symphony Hall, October 1926 (PDF)
The Community Church was a fixture at Symphony Hall from October 1926 through January 1942, convening regularly for services, lectures, and organ recitals. The Church later moved their services across the street to Jordan Hall and then to The Community Church Center at Copley in 1946.


Program celebrating the Seventeenth National Birthday of the Camp Fire Girls, May 4, 1929 (PDF)


Program of the Radcliffe College Semi-Centennial celebrations, May 1929 (PDF)
The anniversary celebrations included a concert at Symphony Hall on May 31st featuring the Harvard Glee Club, the Radcliffe Choral Society, and eighty-five members of the BSO.


Ticket for the Boston Public School Nurses’ Whist and Bridge night, November 14, 1929


Program of the Washington-Lincoln Memorial Exercises, February 16, 1930 (PDF)
Symphony Hall hosted celebrations for holidays such as Presidents’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Thanksgiving. Festivities often featured choral concerts, music recitals, orations, and even motion picture presentations.

View Ticket to the 1930 Washington-Lincoln Memorial Exercises (PDF)


Program for Northeastern University’s graduation ceremony in Symphony Hall, April 11, 1943 (PDF)


Northeastern University graduates in Symphony Hall, June 3, 1944

Photograph by Fay Foto Service, Inc., courtesy NU Photograph Collection – Events – Commencement [item #A000181], University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department, Northeastern University, Boston, MA


An enthusiastic crowd examines exhibits in Symphony Hall during the 1945 Boston Herald Book Fair, Boston Herald
Organized by the Herald’s Literary Editor, Alice Dixon Bond, the Book Fair moved from the Boston Garden to Symphony Hall in 1942. The Fair featured open forum discussions with leading authors of the day who offered sharp commentary on social problems and first-hand accounts from the war front.

View the Boston Herald Book Fair Ticket (PDF)

Photograph by the Associated Press


Boston Herald Advertisement for the September 1946 Book Fair held at Symphony Hall (PDF)


The Inauguration of Boston Mayor John B. Hynes
Symphony Hall has hosted several mayoral inaugurations including those of Malcolm E. Nichols (1926), James M. Curley (1930, 1946), Frederick W. Mansfield (1934), Maurice J. Tobin (1938, 1942) and John B. Hynes (1950, 1952).

View the Program from the Inauguration of Boston Mayor John B. Hynes, January 2, 1950

Left Photo: Inauguration of Mayor Hynes to his second term, January 7, 1952. Photograph by Fay Foto Service, Inc.