The original shell was built in 1928 as a temporary venue for the Pops with expectations of construction of a permanent structure in the near future. Owing to sparse funding throughout the Great Depression, construction of a permanent Hatch Shell was delayed until 1941. In preparation for its 50th anniversary in 1991, it underwent significant renovation and repair along with modernization of its acoustics. Bostonian Howard Brickman, a master craftsman specializing in wood floors, re-created the intricate interior paneling of the shell by hand.
Other uses of the Hatch Shell include movie showings and political speeches, and it is used as a meeting place for large events, such as the AIDS Walk. The grass pavilion is used for picnics, casual sports, and sunbathing in a manner typical of urban parks. It is also where the band Dispatch played their final concert, which had 110,000 people attending.