In 1936 a group of local thespians calling themselves the “Dramatists” produced their first play, Are You Intruding. They were invited by the Hovey Memorial Society (a men’s club) to use their newly-constructed, 1,300 seat, Hovey Memorial Building as their performing location. After the success of the Dramatists first effort, the Hovey Memorial Society invited the Dramatists to take up permanent residence at the hall. And so the Hovey Players were born.
Many productions took place at the Hovey Memorial Building between 1936 and 1952. Well-used by both the Players and other groups it was the only amateur space available in the area of this size. The players met monthly in individuals’ homes.
For the 1945-46 season, Hovey Players recorded a membership of about 100 and season ticket holders of about 500 (that grew to 900 by season end). Membership/sponsorship/season tickets were $2.40/season, tickets at the door were $.90, except for this year’s musical, which was $1.50. Ushers wore formal dress, and the pre-show curtain speech was followed by the playing and singing, in the dark, of the Star Spangled Banner.
For the spring musical (April 10 and 11) in 1946, Victor Herbert’s Sweethearts, Hovey altered their original rules and opened the casting call to all comers.
In 1952, the Hovey Memorial Society dissolved and the building was sold to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1507. We left our birthplace. When the IBEW took over the building they began to charge high fees to renters. That and the advent of the TV changed the economics of live performance. Eventually the building fell into great disrepair and was sold to SGI International (a Buddhist group) in 1998 for only $400,000. The Hovey Players performed one last time at the building. It was a one night only performance, a review we called Back To Our Roots. SGI has since renovated the interior into a temple, walling off the balcony. The stage is forever dark.
Without a home after IBEW bought the Hovey Memorial Building, for two decades we performed in churches, schools (particularly Lexington Jr. High School), the Boys and Girls Club, and in small halls throughout the area. The 1960-1961 Season was the first year we performed a summer show (in a church). The group used the basement of 740 Main St as a workshop and clubhouse/rehearsal space.
The Abbott Memorial Theater
In 1973 the Hovey Players constructed a theater in our rehearsal/workshop space in the basement of the D’Angio Building at 9 Spring Street. In 1983 this space was dedicated as the Abbott Memorial Theater in honor of a beloved member, the late Dr. Alden Q Abbott. The Abbott is a little theater but that does not reflect the size of our heart nor our talent.
The History of Hamblin Hovey
Hamblin Levi Hovey was born June 17, 1838. When six months old, his father died, and with his mother he went to East Ware, MA to live with her parents. He lived there with them until he was ten years old, when his mother married Mr. Emerson, and with her he removed to Gilmanton, N.H., where he lived until he was fifteen. He then went to live with his Uncle Daniel Gove Currier in Waltham, Mass., where he attended the high school. He became a clerk in his uncle’s retail clothing store and subsequently with Bean & Clayton and later with H. W. Smith, Dock Square, in Boston.
He was a quiet boy with studious tastes and early became a member of the Everett Literary Society, which was composed of some of the best young men in the town, with whom he formed some close friendships which continued through life.
In 1861 he enlisted in Company M., of the First regiment of Massachusetts cavalry, and went with the regiment to Hilton Head, S.C. When he returned to Waltham in October 1867, he entered the office of J. W. Parmenter, coal, wood and brick dealer.
He married Harriet Adelaide, daughter of his employer Jonas Willis Parmenter and Harriet (Kingsbury) Parmenter June 3, 1868, in Waltham. He died suddenly, May 12, 1904.
In 1935, the Parmenter family commissioned several buildings. Two were named in honor of Hamblin Hovey. One was a 1,300 seat auditorium christened the Hovey Memorial Building. The second was Hovey Hall, a smaller dance hall. Hovey Hall is long gone. The Hall consisted of a fully functional stage, a flat orchestra area which could accommodate 25 large round tables or 500 auditorium style seats. The orchestra was surrounded on three sides by a balcony seating an additional 750 or more seats. The orchestra was often used for performance and as an arena for boxing events.
Hovey Players would like to thank the Hovey family for their many contributions to this site.