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Testimony given on April 8, 2003 by Brenda Loew in support of the designation of the Gaiety Theatre as a Boston Landmark to Boston Landmarks Commission, Room 900, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA

Good evening,

My name is Brenda Loew. I am the great niece of the late pioneering theatre chain magnate, night club and race track owner E.M. Loew.

E.M. owned the Gaiety Theatre for nearly 50 years before he died in 1984. Throughout my life I knew the Gaiety only as the Publix Theatre -- until just recently, when I was contacted by the Friends of the Gaiety.

Upon careful review of all the information presented to me, I am attending this hearing to request the Commission take action on the proposal and designate the Gaiety Theatre a historic landmark. I assure you that E.M. Loew, who was so often honored for his philanthropic service to community, religious and charitable organizations, would have wanted that.

A search of Boston area news archives tells the story: Here in Boston, as any American in history, E.M. epitomized the pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that built America during the twentieth century. E.M. came to America in search of the American Dream almost a century ago. He was a waiter at Jacob Wirth's restaurant. That legendary Boston institution and historic landmark is still located just around the corner from the Gaiety.

In the 1930's and early '40's, Boston newspapers characterized E.M. as a Horatio Alger rags to riches story. By 1937, the papers reported that E.M. Loew was the largest single owner of movie theatres in New England.

E.M. Loew broke down social barriers. He was a Jew who moved into Milton. He bought the Peabody Estate on Brush Hill Road, and built the B'nai Jacob orthodox shul on Blue Hills Parkway in honor of the memory of his youngest brother, Jack.

During World War II, E.M. brought over the rest of the Loew family from Vienna, saving them from Hitler's concentration camps. Family always came first with E.M.

E.M. was the flamboyant owner of Bay State Raceway in Foxboro, Boston's Latin Quarter nightclub, the New York Latin Quarter and the Miami Latin Quarter on Palm Island right next to Al Capone's house.

After the deal to buy the Red Sox from the Yawkey family fell though in the 1960's, E.M. sold land adjacent to the racetrack in Foxboro for a dollar to Billy Sullivan for the Patriot's first football stadium.

Yes, E.M. Loew was Boston's own success story, a man who electrified the city of Boston and other cities and towns throughout the east coast with marquees bearing his name, including the Lynn pen Air Drive-in on the Lynnway, the first drive-in east of the Mississippi.

Members of the Landmarks Commission: You are stewards who will determine the options of what will follow; what the legacy of visionary builders of empires like E.M. Loew will be.

In North Adams, E.M. Loew's Mohawk Theatre has already been designated a historic landmark.

Designating the Gaiety a historic landmark will enrich the neighborhood and the city and enhance the possibilities and the opportunities for future generations of Bostonians, tourists, students, arts patrons, cultural events and businesses.

Invest in this resource. Pass along a chain of tradition as an inheritance and a legacy that will eventually be even more beneficial than when it was received.

I request the Commission designate the Gaiety Theatre a historic landmark.

Thank you.

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