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Wilbur Theater on the Block

Boston landmark closes after 93 years

After 93 years, it looks like it’s curtains for Boston’s Wilbur Theater.

Tremont Entertainment Enterprises, which bought the property in 1988 for $3.1 million, has put the 1,200-seat legit house on the block. There is no asking price, but the Beantown realty market is a hot one in which properties in the theater district are being snapped up to be turned into condos and high-end hotels.

The Tremont Street theater’s landmark status, which protects it from being torn down or drastically changed, may impede an easy sale. But the Boston Globe quotes city officials as saying that the property could be used for residential, office, retail-restaurant, hotel and entertainment, adding that the city has been “flexible in recent years about changes made to accommodate new uses for historic buildings.”

Robert S. Merowitz, managing partner of the development firm that is selling the building, said he hopes the theater remains an entertainment facility.

The most recent extended run at the theater was for last year’s touring production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The theater has been dark since Live Nation’s lease on the building expired last year.

The Wilbur was built by the Shubert brothers and named for their manager A.L. Wilbur when it opened in 1914. The theater was renovated in the late 1960s and again in the ’80s before it was declared a landmark, after longtime Beantown critic Elliot Norton led a campaign to save the site.

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