ActivityChildren & Family
Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park
Elma Lewis was one of Boston’s most revered cultural icons. In the 1950s, she founded the Elma Lewis School for Fine and Performing Arts, where thousands of African-American children and adults learned cultural history, explored their creativity, and cultivated their artistic skills. In the 1960s, Miss Lewis and her students cleared an overgrown area in Franklin Park where the Overlook Shelter had burned and then erected the Playhouse stage to create an open-air performance venue.
From 1966–1978, Playhouse events were held every single night from July 4th through Labor Day. Musical legends like Duke Ellington, Olatunji and his drum of Africa, the Billy Taylor Trio, and Odetta, graced the Playhouse stage.
Today, the Franklin Park Coalition carries on the legacy of Miss Elma Lewis and her students by organizing the Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park. We host local R&B, reggae, and gospel artists every Tuesday night in the summer, and this year, we hope to include a Jazz Festival. More than a thousand people come out to enjoy the free concert series every week … don’t miss out on the fun!
Bring a picnic supper, your lawn chairs, and lots of friends! But please remember, there’s no smoking or alcohol use in the park, and barbecuing is not permitted. Food trucks will be on site for the evening concerts.
Children’s shows are in the morning at 11AM. Evening concerts start at 6PM.
Tuesday Night Concerts: Start at 6PM
Enjoy a night in the park with music that will make you get up and dance. Bring your lawn chairs, a picnic supper (or grab from the food trucks) and lots of friends! Join MC, Amanda Lady Emcee Merricks and Radio station 98.1fm, Boston Rhythm Riders leading line dancing at intermissions!
Tuesday Morning Children’s Shows: Start at 11AM
Bring the kids to get up and dance to original music and classic hits. Inspire their love for art & music as they watch young people perform too!
How to Find the Playhouse
If traveling by car, drive down Circuit Drive (the main road through Franklin Park) and exit onto Pierpont Road towards the back entrance of the Zoo. Look for signs! The stage will be on your left and there is plenty of parking available. There is also a dirt parking lot located on Circuit Drive next to Pierpont road across from the golf course.
If traveling by public transportation, take the Orange Line to Green Street. Exit the station and turn right. Walk down Green Street, cross Washington Street, and walk up the hill into the park. Green Street turns into Glen Road. Follow Glen Road and stay on the paved pathway until you see the Playhouse stage. The #16 bus also travels through Franklin Park on Circuit Drive and stops directly across from the Playhouse stage.
Information on vending at the event:
- All events are from 6PM – 8PM
- Vendor setup is 4PM – 5:30PM
- Vendors will receive a 10 x 10 space, vendors must provide their own tables and tents