• Kelly O

I remember my first night at the Harvard Exit seven years ago, standing among the century-old projector, grand piano, ottomans and other furnishings with clawed feet and thinking, “I will like this job and be happy here.” It was the first time I’d ever felt that way about a job. The high ceilings and ornate woodwork made every room feel like a church, especially the auditoriums. The first time I cleaned the upstairs auditorium after a show (the film was Control, about Joy Division), I stopped sweeping garbage for a moment to listen to the between-shows baroque music and felt the weird energy of a ritual place, a place people go to be transported.

The place, designed by architect Pierce A. Horrocks, was built in 1925 as a clubhouse for the Woman’s Century Club. The club was equal parts social and political, its founding related to the women’s suffrage movement. It became a movie theater in 1968, but the Woman’s Century Club still held its monthly meetings in the lobby the entire time I worked there—we had to stow away all the plastic cup lids, straws and movie flyers, (I hoped) so that the members could pretend it was the 1920s…