If you watched a movie at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square between 1953 and 2001, it’s quite possible you sat on one of the theatre seats now residing in our kitchen. It was in 2001, while Dan and I were living in Cambridge, MA, that The Brattle gave away its old seats to make way for new ones — and that’s how Dan and I acquired ours.
My recollection is that we saw a notice posted at the theatre announcing seats would be given away on a first come first served basis at a specified future date and time. Eager to secure some seats, and having convinced myself they would be in high demand, I determined I should camp out at the theatre as early as possible on the specified day. I pictured people queued up hours in advance, as they do for a Black Friday sale (or for a Boxing Day sale in the UK), and that is how I came to be one of just two people sat outside The Brattle early one morning.
My wait was not in vain. I managed to acquire seven (!!) seats. Later that day Dan and I set the seats up as garden furniture…
and invited friends …
to help celebrate our good fortune.
Following the initial excitement of acquiring the seats, we stored them in our landlords’ basement — knowing that one day we would figure out a fun way to use them.
A year later, when we moved from Massachusetts to New Jersey, the seats required more space in our rental truck than was available. So, we ended up taking three seats and leaving four with our landlords (no, we have not since asked for them back).
For the past eleven years our theatre seats have been stored in our basement waiting to be cast in a new role.
A few weeks ago Dan and I figured out we could use the seats just inside our kitchen doors. We decided that a pair of seats would look better in the space than a set of three. So, I removed the middle seat, and we then brought them up to the kitchen for an audition.
It was immediately clear that they would be ideal in a supporting role for the lead character in our house — and also provide others with a good place to sit and put shoes on before going outside.
Pleased with how the seats worked in the space, but displeased with their well-worn and vinyl-taped condition, it was time to send them to wardrobe and makeup. We placed a call to our upholsterer. The next day we dropped the seats at his workshop in Harlem.
Two weeks later our seats returned looking fabulous, and ready for their close up …
sporting plush brown mohair fabric over voluptuous foam, and a fresh application of varnish.
The seats, manufactured by Heywood Wakefield, have an appealing design that we suspect dates to the 1940s or 50s. The slim side profile works very well in our space — especially when the seats are in the ‘up’ position.
Since making their comeback, the seats are performing beautifully, entertaining us…
and our friends.
Everyone seems to enjoy the ritual of folding the seats down. While doing so, it’s fun to think about the many Brattle movie goers that did the same before us.
live. enjoy. repeat.