Comments from PGlenat

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PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Oct 3, 2006 at 8:23 pm

A full page article appearing over a week ago in the Free Press suggested that the Met would be an ideal permanent home for the Winnipeg Symphony. This was partly brought about by the WSO being evicted (although temporarily) from the Centennial Concert Hall to make way for a touring production of the Phantom of the Opera. It was feared that once hall management got a taste of the big rental fees they can charge to these touring productions, there could be more times when the WSO would have to find another location for their performances. The Met would be a perfect fit for the WSO, while preserving it in it’s original state. (It’s not the first time a former movie palace has found a new life for just such a purpose). Unfortunately the WSO is not in a financial position to undertake the burden of restoring the theatre without major outside help. Nevertheless this is probably the best proposal I’ve heard to date for the theatre.

PGlenat commented about Broadway Theatre on Sep 27, 2006 at 9:04 pm

The terra cotta facade still appears to be in remarkable condition considering the age of the building. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the rest of the building judging from recent photos I’ve seen. A notice to vacate the premises was posted by the Buffalo buildings department over a year ago against the most recent owners of record (God’s Holy Temple). Although the building is supposed to be boarded up and secured, a side door was open. Bulldozers are in the area demolishing the neighboring abandoned Buffalo Forge site. Could the Broadway theatre be next? It’s highly unlikely, given the urban blight in the surrounding area, that any white knight will
appear on the horizon in time to rescue the theatre from ultimate demolition.

PGlenat commented about Cataract Theatre on Aug 31, 2006 at 7:22 pm

Just as an aside, Niagara Falls is sometimes referred to as the Cataract city. In this instance they are referring to the proximity of the city to the falls.

PGlenat commented about Chicago Theatre on Aug 25, 2006 at 4:09 am

I believe the term used for that type of lighting is called “stud lighting”. I’ll let resident expert Jim Rankin correct me if I got it wrong. There are many examples of exterior decorative lighting that has been restored after many years of being dark. e.g. The concealed lighting in the arches at the top of the Chrysler building in NY was “discovered' and lit for the first time a number of years ago. Apparently the wiring and fixtures had been installed, but never used, during the original construction. In some cases exterior lighting was subject to blackouts during WWII so that metropolitan areas were not easily discernible in the event of a possible enemy air raid. Afterwards, for various reasons it was never restored to operating condition. More recently the practice of enhancing architectural details with decorative lighting at night has increased. Possibly another CT member knows if the lighting on the Chicago was always there or has since been added. With the advancements in lighting technology today the lamps are probably long lasting and not subject to frequent replacement.

PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Jul 26, 2006 at 2:27 pm

If Cummings' past involvement with the Walker theatre is any indicator, I don’t hold much hope for any help with the Met. In return for renaming the Walker theatre after him, (By the way I’m not in favor of renaming historic buildings and other sites just on a whim) he was to promote that theatre and also return a portion of proceeds from concert appearances, etc. (how many of those has he had lately?) towards the ongoing restoration, operating costs and retirement of the mortgage. There has been nothing but silence on that front since the announcement several years ago. The mortgage is still in arrears and I’m not sure what has been done recently as far as further restoration is concerned. Based on that do you think the Met would fare any better? When it comes to monied people, I’m sure they have been approached by CentreVenture and other powers that be already and have little or no interest in the project.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 22, 2006 at 6:58 am

Hens & Kelly’s known irreverently by many Buffalonians as Hens ‘n’ Chickens. Western New Yorkers and Buffalonians in particular were/are fiercely loyal to locally owned businesses. Sadly, most of them are now only a memory, either out of business or swallowed up by outside competition.
By the way, except for 620 Main, all the buildings between the former Paramount and Shea’s comprise Theatre Place with businesses that cater to theatre goers (leaning towards food and drink).
Out of sight past Shea’s at the other end of the block is Studio Arena theatre. (live stage productions). It occupies the theatre building that was formerly home to the 2nd Palace Burlesque. There was an earlier Palace Burlesque theatre further down Main (demolished).

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 21, 2006 at 6:55 pm

Patsy, The church in the background is St Louis RC church and is on the National Register of Historic places. It is an excellent example of German gothic architecture.
Except for the condo building that incorporated the Great Lakes/Paramount into the new structure and the building on the corner of Main and Chippewa that replaces the long gone MacDoels restaurant and Harvey & Crey drug store building, the rest of the block as far as Shea’s Buffalo theatre retains all the buildings pictured in the older post card photo. They have been cleaned and restored and probably look better now than they did for many years.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 21, 2006 at 3:50 am

Crafty bunch, those people from Buffalo! Trust them to list it under a different name and then give it the wrong address. Looks like they’re still doing it. City Centre Condominiums has 600 Main St as an address. Since it’s a retrofit/rebuild of the Paramount theatre building it should probably be 612-614 also, but why quibble.
Nevertheless, great sleuthing Jerry and Patsy.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 21, 2006 at 12:36 am

Lost: The Erlanger theatre was built by Ellsworth Statler to complement his Statler Hotel across from it. It was, however, a legitimate theatre and apparently never showed movies. It was operated by the much reviled Abraham Erlanger who also built the New Amsterdam and St James (originally Erlanger) theatres in NYC. It ceased operating as a theatre in 1956. The interior was gutted and the building converted to offices in 1959. It was slated for demolition in 2003 to make way for a new federal court house, but according to a friend of mine that I spoke to recently, that plan has not yet materialized
As far as the Paramount theatre is concerned, I don’t know if much of the original detail survived other than the aforementioned columns. It had been used by Nemmer Furniture for a number of years as retail and warehouse space for their business. Additional floors had been created inside the shell (probably the auditorium space).
After Nemmer vacated and prior to being incorporated into the condo structure the building had been vacant for some time. By then possibly anything of value remaining had been removed. Also, there were several reports of vandalism a few years ago with architectural fragments and artifacts being looted from many historic sites. Apparently there was quite a black market operating in the area for such items for a time until the law caught up with the perpetrators.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 19, 2006 at 5:45 pm

Patsy: I have no idea of where the 9 West Chippewa address came from, but in the postcard view that you sent, the theatre is after the building housing MacDoels restaurant and Harvey & Carey drugs on the corner (a check of the addresses for those two businesses from old city directories might help). Since the Great Lakes/Paramount fronted on Main and since the City Centre condominiums incorporated the theatre building into their structure and has an address of 600 Main, one would have to assume that the theatre had the same address. When the building on the corner had long since been demolished, I don’t recall any part of the theatre building extending out as far as Chippewa St.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 19, 2006 at 4:50 am

Patsy: In 1936 the theatre was still known as the Great Lakes. It became the Paramount in 1949, but was closed by 1977, which is why no listing could be found in the city directories for those years.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 19, 2006 at 4:40 am

At the risk of adding to the confusion, the Center theatre was originally Shea’s Hippodrome. It stood south of the Main-Chippewa intersection. More confusion. There is now a “new” Center theatre on the opposite side of Main midway between Shea’s Performing Arts and the Great Lakes/Paramount. In the photo at the top of this page note the neon ‘Cinema’(?) sign visible across from the other two theatres. That’s approximately where the new Center theatre is located (it’s a live theatre). In the left center distance the Century theatre sign is just barely visible. In the right center distance the old Center/Hippodrome theatre sign can be seen beyond the Paramount sign.
I’ve been in the condo building (600 Main), but entered from the visitors' parking lot at the rear, so didn’t take note of the Main St facade. Nevertheless, the condo is located very close to the Main/Chippewa intersection which has me thinking that it was the site of the Paramount.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 18, 2006 at 9:06 pm

Either the theatre was demolished to make way for the City Centre condos (as reported in an earlier post) or it was incorporated into the condo structure. The location is a lot closer to the site of the theatre, as is the condo address (600 Main). Certainly the 620 Main St building is not it and the Theatre Place buildings are to the right of 620. Shea’s Performing Arts Centre (646) is immediately after Theatre Place. Strangely enough, although I passed the corner of Main and Chippewa regularly, I don’t recall the theatre being demolished or even the construction of the condo hi rise. Because of the vacant lot on the corner the theatre was always clearly visible from the intersection. It was the first building after the vacant lot.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 18, 2006 at 8:11 am

This gets more confusing all the time. I’m inclined to agree that 646 Main IS the address for Shea’s Performing Arts Centre. However, 620 Main is still the wrong address for the Great Lakes/Paramount since there is another building at that address. The photos bear this out. I know for a fact that the condo tower was built north of the theatre so the address has to be a lower number than 620. (but what?). The last time I was in Buffalo the theatre building was still standing. ({Patsy, time to take a trip into the city and find out for sure).

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 18, 2006 at 5:23 am

The high rise building seen in the photo link that Lost Memory provided is the condo that was built near the Great Lakes/Paramount. The actual theatre building would be just out of view to the left of the condo structure.

PGlenat commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 18, 2006 at 5:01 am

The address in the intro for this theatre is wrong. The Great Lakes/Paramount was located at 646 Main St, Buffalo, not 620.

As I understand it, after the theatre closed several floors were built inside the structure to accomodate a furniture business and warehouse space. There was retail space at street level with frontage on Main.

RJT: The old Erie County Savings Bank was located on Shelton Square. The ‘square’ disappeared with the construction of Main Place Mall and a slight realignment of the streets. A small park known as Cathedral Park occupies part of the land where the bank had been.

PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Jul 16, 2006 at 10:32 am

Hmm, this is just a couple of weeks after a news blurb on CKY TV said that the project was not yet dead in the water. I’m thinking that the mayor has more than a little interest in seeing this plan go ahead. After all one of his business partners proposed the idea in the first place. Since there is supposedly another national (?) R'n'R museum already, why would anyone want to have another one in competition with it.

The Gaiety/Eve/Colony had two staircases at either end of the lobby ascending to the auditorium, very similar to the original Garrick theatre layout. You arrived at a cross aisle where you could go down to the orchestra section or up to the mezzanine. There was no balcony. It was an early form of stadium seating. In the lobby between the two staircase entrances was the concession stand. The interior photos of the Colony appear to show that the floor plan had never been altered since it was built as the Gaiety.

PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Jun 21, 2006 at 8:01 pm

Ken, Great photos of the Colony. The interior shots looks much as it did when it was the Gaiety. It appears that not much other than replace the signage to correspond to the various name changes was ever done. The shop under the marquee to the left of the entrance was where Strain’s was located. It was there through the 1960’s (I know since I bought my first tape deck there back then). The exterior went through at least one remodelling, but until it was demolished it appears as it does in your photos. Perhaps in an earlier life the entrance lobby ran the full width under the marquee, but after it was remodelled in the 50’s a store was always
there. (they may have taken a piece of the lobby to incorporate the store). The only difference appears to be that the area under the marquee was clad in red vitrolite originally and this was replaced later. The marquee is the one that was installed in the early 50's
The Capitol photos are extremely saddening to see. If you haven’t done so already, your link to the photos should be posted on the Capitol theatre site on CT too.

PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Jun 19, 2006 at 9:37 pm

Most of the older neighborhoods had a local movie theatre. Unfortunately with the arrival of tv they were the first to be closed. In the space of only a few years (mid to late 50’s) the neighborhood houses all vanished. Some were demolished. Others were converted to other uses. The Elm sounds vaguely familiar, but so far I haven’t been able to find any information about it.

PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Jun 18, 2006 at 10:10 pm

On Main, from Portage to the CPR underpass, there were the three previously mentioned plus the Bijou (which is listed on CT), the Beacon and the Oak. There were many other theatres, particularly in the downtown area, but most were early casualties of urban renewal and were demolished long ago.

PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Jun 18, 2006 at 7:37 pm

The three theatres on Main are the Fox, Regent and Starland, still standing, but boarded up for years, condition unknown. That area is pretty much run down these days.

In order, proceeding west on Portage from Colony was the Furby, demolished, now a used car lot; Arlington, possibly demolished, current building in that area gives no clue as to having been a theatre; Valour, building converted to electronics store and the Kings, now an indoor flea market..still retains marquee, poster boxes and neon sign on the exterior, although portion of the sign saying ‘theatre’ has been removed. If I ever get sufficient info on
any or all of these theatres' histories I’ll submit them to CT for listing.

PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Jun 18, 2006 at 12:57 pm

The Gaiety/Colony/Eve was right on the corner of Portage and Colony, right across the street from the Bay. As the Gaiety the marquee ran the full width of the building and wrapped around the corner onto Colony St. For years Strain’s camera shop was located on the corner under the marquee next to the theatre entrance. As far as any other theatre in the area is concerned, you may have been thinking of the Rialto which was located on Portage near the corner of Carlton, roughly where the Portage Place atrium is now.

PGlenat commented about Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Jun 18, 2006 at 12:13 am

Re: the Colony. Originally it opened as the Gaiety sometime in the 1920’s and operated under that name until the 60’s. Renamed the Colony, but ended it’s days as an adult theatre named the Eve. That entire block of Portage Av was demolished to make way for Investors Syndicate headquarters.

PGlenat commented about Cineplex fires a great salvo; finally some innovation on Jun 15, 2006 at 8:58 pm

….Meanwhile, back at the ranch… On a more modest level who recently increased their visibility across Canada by purchasing some of the Cineplex cast-offs are trying to lure more people into their theatres with a campaign of mail box stuffers. The ‘stuffer’ consists of a bag which can be filled with free popcorn (after purchasing a soft drink, however) along with a voucher entitling the holder to a chance at 28 other prizes, including a grand prize of a year’s free attendance at any of their theatres for two people for any movie, as well as vouchers for free soft drinks and popcorn. According to their website they have other promotions ongoing currently.

PGlenat commented about Cineplex fires a great salvo; finally some innovation on Jun 11, 2006 at 3:27 am

Delving further into ancient history, Famous Players-Nathanson greatly expanded their holdings in the early 20’s with the acquisition of the Allen brothers theatre chain. The Allen brothers were grossly overextended and forced into bankruptcy. FP gained ownership of the entire chain of theatres for mere pennies on the dollar.

Odeon expanded into the western Canadian market in 1945 merging with Morton theatres to form Odeon-Morton. The Morton name eventually vanished. I recall that there was a lot of Rank organization product shown so it must have been after the merger with British Odeon.

The fast shuffle that Cineplex pulled with the Toronto Pantages/Imperial/Imperial6/Pantages/Canon theatre (how many names can one theatre have?) is well known.

Interesting that where once upon a time Famous Players and its affiliated companies had a stranglehold on film exhibition across Canada and Odeon was the new kid on the block, the new kid is now the major player.