About the Friends of Chevalier
Friends of Chevalier Auditorium and Gene Mack Gym is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering financial and community support and being an advocate for the historic theater and gymnasium in Medford, Mass. Through promotion of cultural, theatrical, civic, and youth programs, the Friends strive to enrich the quality of life in the community.
Over the past 23 years, through fundraising efforts and hands-on volunteering, the Friends have performed or paid for physical improvements to the facilities; sponsored free community concerts and other fund-raising events at the theatre; and worked with the Mayor and City Council to bring the youth center to fruition in 2001. All told, the Friends have raised nearly $300,000 in support of Chevalier Auditorium and the Gene Mack Clubhouse, part of the Middlesex County Boys & Girls Clubs.
In 2014, the Friends obtained a $100,000 grant for the Medford Boys & Girls Club through the Cummings Foundation’s $100k for 100 program, to expand staffing, membership capacity and educational programs.
About Chevalier Theatre
Chevalier Theatre is a historic landmark and cultural treasure in the heart of Medford Square. Formerly the auditorium for Medford High School, the theatre has a Greek Revival style exterior with Art Deco interior details, including a double elliptical ceiling that provides near perfect acoustics. Chevalier is the sixth-largest stage theater in the Boston area with a seating capacity of 1,856. It was dedicated on March 7, 1940 to Medford High School graduate Godfrey Chevalier, a pioneering World War I-era Navy aviator.
About Godfrey Chevalier
Lieutenant Commander Godfrey DeCourcelles Chevalier was a pioneering aviator of the United States Navy of World War I and the early 1920s. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Chevalier grew up in Medford and was a standout athlete at Medford High School. On Oct. 1, 1910, Midshipman Chevalier performed the first of what would be several heroic feats, rescuing some 20 sailors tossed from an overturned barge in New York’s Hudson River. Two years later, Chevalier was with the first detachment to land in France on the USS Neptune. He became the commanding officer of the US Naval Air Station at Dunkirk, France, in 1917-18 and was awarded the French Legion of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross for his extraordinary meritorious service. In 1922, Lieutenant Commander Chevalier made aviation history, becoming the first U.S. Naval aviator to land an airplane on a moving ship, the USS Langley. Tragically, Chevalier’s life was cut short less than a month after his historic flight, when he died from injuries suffered in a plane crash in Virginia. Chevalier Auditorium was dedicated to his memory on March 7, 1940, which would have been his 51st birthday.
About The Gene Mack Gymnasium
The Gene Mack Gymnasium, located on the lower level of the auditorium building, is part of a youth center operated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Medford and Somerville. The youth center offers children ages 6-14 recreational and educational programs including sports activities, tutoring, computer training, homework help and mentoring.
About Gene Mack
Eugene McGillicuddy, best known as Gene Mack, was a lifelong resident of Medford who gained national prominence as a sports cartoonist during a 35-year career at the Boston Globe. His series of 14 National League baseball parks hangs in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and is considered a baseball treasure. Although Mack worked in the sports world of legendary athletes such as Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, the young athletes in Medford and the achievements of Medford High School teams were closest to his heart. In 1953, five months after his death, the gym at the old high school at 30 Forest St. was named in his memory. Today, the Gene Mack Gym is the centerpiece of the Medford Boys & Girls Club, which offers a wide range of programs “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to become productive, responsible and caring citizens.”