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September 23, 2008
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Brockport is celebrating the centennial of the second oldest motion picture venue in America. The Strand Theater and its predecessor, the Lyric, in downtown Brockportâ€\s Winslow Block have been projecting movies continuously since August 15, 1908.
To celebrate this event, the Greater Brockport Development Corp. has organized a two-day vintage movie festival, Friday and Saturday, October 17-18. Films from 1910-1916 and 1946 will be projected with leading experts as hosts and commentators. A Champagne Gala will conclude the festivities Saturday evening. All activities will take place in the Strand, 89 Main Street.
Patrick Loughney, head motion picture curator at the George Eastman House, will host the Friday session, 7-9 pm, showing selected films and discussing the early movie industry. The 10-12 am session Saturday will be devoted to the history of movie theaters in upstate New York. Norman O. Keim, co-author of â€œOur Movie Houses: A History of Film and Cinematic Innovation in Central New Yorkâ€, will host the first hour and Karen Colizzi Noonan, President of the Theater Historical Society of America, the second half.
Dr. George J. Grella, Professor of Film History at the University of Rochester and film critic for City Magazine, will host the 2-4 session Saturday afternoon, presenting and commenting on selected early films.
The Champagne Gala is scheduled for 5-10 pm, Saturday, and will feature two films closely associated with the history of the Strand. Mary Pickfordâ€\s â€œCinderellaâ€ was the first movie shown when the Strand replaced the Lyric in 1916 and Maureen Oâ€\Haraâ€\s â€œDo You Love Me?â€ inaugurated the greatly-enlarged Strand in 1946. Hosts for the Gala will be Dr. Kenneth Oâ€\Brien, specialist on film history in Brockportâ€\s History Department, and Dr. Sidney Rosenzweig, lecturer on film criticism in its English Department. The other commentators will join them in discussing the films and their contexts.
Admission to the Friday evening and Saturday daytime sessions will be $5, payable at the door. Participation in the Gala will cost $25.
Tickets are available at the Strand, Express Mart in Brockport, the Lift Bridge Book Shop, the Red Bird Tea Shoppe, State Farm Insurance at 59 Main Street, Ryanâ€\s Big M, and at the door. A substantial portion of the proceeds will be used to subsidize repair and restoration of the marquee and faÃ§ade of the Strand.
Sponsors for the Gala are the Brockport Downtown Merchants Assn., Express Mart, Lift Bridge Book Shop, Mahan Discount Liquor, Northside Service Center, Red Bird Tea Shoppe, Ryanâ€\s Big M, State Farm Insurance, and Brockport Wegmanâ€\s
Apparently that link changes from day to day – here is the text of the Auburn Citizen article:
Debating the Schine’s projectBy Todd A. Gaglianese
Saturday, September 13, 2008 10:18 PM EDT
Just look at building to see council’s failure
File Photo / The Citizen
Arts council’s stewardship of theater debated Seventy years ago, Auburn closed its schools and shops to make way for â€œThe Pageant of Progress.â€ The pageant was a large celebration parade that ended up at the doors of Auburn’s newest marvel, The Auburn Schine’s Theater. About 3,000 people tried to cram their way into the brand new theater for the first afternoon show on Sept. 15, 1938. With a seating capacity of only 1,702, many first-time patrons were turned away until the evening show, which also sold out. The theater continued to be Auburn’s centerpiece until the late ‘70s.
Today the same theater that brought famous movie stars into our little town is silent. The very building that was the hope for Auburn’s future has little future of its own. Just 10 years ago the Auburn Schine’s was world famous. Today, the world is wondering what happened. The project took off with a tremendous fire and then suddenly smoldered out.
I can tell you â€œfirst handâ€ what truly happened. The problem began when an already shaky Cayuga County Arts Council took on a worthy project that was much too big to be handled alone. Ideals differed, original agreements were not honored and tempers flared. The sudden loss of our friend and leader Dick Mahlstedt was another serious blow dealt to the group. Dick was the glue that held us together. All these issues and more resulted in the disbanding of Friends of Auburn Schine’s Theater (who are credited with the project’s early success).
Since then a struggling arts council, which can barely keep its own head above water, has been doing little more than trying to keep up appearances. Interested organizations, volunteers, television and media crews have all been kept away from the theater. Funding sources have dried up and to date not one attempt has been made by the council (itself) at a significant fundraiser or capital campaign.
As the monumental 70th birthday of a national treasure comes and goes without notice, it seems that there is no one here in Auburn who knows or cares. Meanwhile, the oblivious Cayuga County Arts Council keeps plugging away at tea parties, pathetic art showings and prestigious piano concerts that were all handed to them by their predecessors. Very little has happened there on South Street in quite some time. The monies left to the theater project by its previous board have all been spent on new doors and poster cases. Ironically, those doors are locked and the building still sits there totally useless. Directors have come and gone and yet almost no new funding has been secured. However, the present arts council did manage to get one meager grant a few years back that was added to the door restoration fund. That particular grant was secured by copying a previously submitted application and â€œtweaking it just a little.â€ A once credible project has fallen on hard times due to apathy, secrecy, false pride and ignorance.
Sadly on its 70th birthday, the Schine’s Theater slips slowly backwards. The new mortar on the building’s crown is cracking and falling away again. The new poster cases proudly display their fresh black paint now peeling away. The marquee sits empty because there are no volunteers to put a Band-Aid on it and again have it bringing in money and drawing attention as it was before. Large black trash bags now cover the window on the new doors in order to conceal the decay and rubble of falling plaster inside. On the rear of the building, small trees are now growing out of the corners of a new $160,000 roof. Clearly neither the arts council nor the community should be proud of what has happened here.
If you were to ask the arts council, they would tell you everything is fine and that they are moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Realistically, one only needs to open their eyes to see the real truth.
But do not ask the group for specific details about the building that your tax dollars paid for. That information is kept in total secrecy and locked behind those lovely new doors that are destined to fade long before they ever open.
If they ever open.
Happy birthday, Auburn Shine’s Theater. Those who truly know and care for you are raising a toast to your future on the 15th.
Progress has been made; future is bright
By The Cayuga County Arts Council
The Cayuga County Arts Council is pleased to have the opportunity to talk about some of our recent developments and about our programs. We are excited to have recently moved into our new office in downtown Auburn at SS. Peter and John Church. This new location will enable us to be more available and accessible to the residents of Auburn and Cayuga County. Additionally, we are happy to welcome our new executive director, Michelle Graney. She already has proven to be a great asset.
Our organization serves a broad mission, which encompasses many projects both large and small. Each project serves the arts community while also serving the community at large. We are proud of them all. We are responsible for the New Year’s Celebration, which is becoming one of the premiere family events in our community. We continue to co-sponsor the Adams Foundation Piano series, which brings to Auburn world class music programming. We are partnering with the Community Preservation Organization’s Home Tour and presenting â€œArt in the Parkâ€ on Saturday, Oct. 4, where many local artists will be showcasing their work. We are members in good standing of the Historic and Cultural Sites Commission.
In addition to these and other projects, we also own the historic Auburn Schine’s Theater. As the property holder of the theater, we have developed a comprehensive plan for its restoration and renovation. We understand that this landmark is an important symbol of our collective identity. We know that all of these projects contribute to the economic and social fabric of our county.
The renovation of the theater is an enormous project, but equally enormous is the potential benefit to our community upon its successful completion. Since we purchased the theater we have faced our share of challenges, and have enjoyed many successes. We are proud to have raised more than $1 million via state and federal grants, foundation grants and private contributions. Some of that money was used to restore some of the facade of the theater, including the doors, the poster cases, and the exterior brickwork. Unfortunately, it was necessary to use the balance of the funding on less glamorous work, such as roof replacement, sump pump replacement and asbestos removal. The good news is that the completion of all of these projects has served to prevent further damage to the interior of the structure. We can now proceed with our plan to renovate the lobby and make it accessible to the public.
We have received some criticism for the slow nature of the process, and we share that frustration. A large capital improvement project such as this requires diligent, tireless effort, particularly during difficult economic times. We are optimistic, however, that our dedicated board of directors, which continues to grow in experience and expertise, along with our motivated new executive director, will be able to build on past successes and restore the Schine’s Theater to its original grandeur, for the benefit of the entire community. We have good reason to be optimistic, as we are proud to have received pledges of support from our federal, state and local elected officials. In addition, we have support from the New York State Council of the Arts, the major arts funding entity in the state. Most importantly, the citizens of our community recognize that we are lucky to have this architectural and historical treasure and that it is our duty to respect and preserve it. Together, with a spirit of cooperation, we can and will bring this important project to fruition.
The Cayuga County Arts Council Board of Directors is comprised of a hard-working group of volunteers. The success of our programming is dependent on the willingness of the public to donate their time and support. We welcome the contributions of our community members in all of its forms: volunteerism, financial donations, in-kind donations, constructive criticism and suggestions, and participation in our events.
For more information on ways in which you can become more active in the arts council’s many projects, contact us at 169 Genesee St., Auburn, or call 252-0950.
Monday is the 70th birthday of one of John Eberson’s late era Art Deco masterpieces, the Auburn Schine Theater. On September 15, 1938 the outer space atmospheric marvel was unveiled to the public. Lighting fixtures shaped like comets and shooting stars, wildly Art Deco stars and “Jetsons” looking decor – it was like nothing Eberson had done before, or after. A truly one-of-a-kind treasure.
In 1999, THS visited the Schine Auburn and met with Friends of the Auburn Schine Theater (FAST) who were wildly enthusiastic about their restoration plan and the public support for a re-energized theater for their town and proudly showed off the neglected, yet still proud theater to our Conclave group.
Sadly, almost 10 years later, FAST was forced to disband by the owners of the theater and the Schine sits mildewing and with little appreciable progress from that happy day in 1999. No one is allowed to see the theater. This editorial appeared in the local newspaper yesterday in anticipation of the anniversary. There must be SOME entity who is up to the considerable challenge.
Thanks for the updated photo, Lost Memory. No contest, hunh?
Here is a link to a recent news story – looks like they are progressing at a slow and steady pace!
Gee thanks! I forgot that i had asked the question. This is just about the most stunning small town theater marquee ever. And the photo is the jewel of my Schine collection.
Thanks again, MBD!
This is it folks – it’s crunch time! There will never be a better time to take advantage of all the publicity and intense attention heaped on the Boyd. People all across the country now know that an exemplary Art Deco masterpiece is in peril. Live Nation and the City of Philadelphia need to hear us loud and clear. The BOYD is a national treasure, it is an important part of not only Philadelphia’s history but of the history of movie palaces in America. Respectful preservation and reuse as an entertainment venue is the only logical option!
Theatre Historical Society stands with Cinema Treasures alongside The Friends of the Boyd to move the Boyd from the Endangered List to the Success List!
Thanks Warren – this theater bears a familial resemblance to the Schine Auburn in Auburn NY – but only in various design elements, a few patterns here and there. You can tell they are “cousins” but certainly not twins, as someone else suggested to me. It just breaks my heart further to know that the Auburn theater continues to languish and lose more of its unique outer space elements every day.
So i guess we have confirmed that the State was actually torn down? Pity.
Thanks Fred. When i tried to search on “Piccidilly” the site did not come up – probably because it is primarily listed under “Paramount”.
And thanks to EVERYONE who has emailed to confirm that this is indeed in Rochester NY. : )
The latest issue of Theatre Historical Society’s MARQUEE MAGAZINE features a photo and short bio of this theater in a travel feature spotlighting the Berkshires.
Go to www.historictheatres.org to join THS or order back issues.
Article from today’s Toronto Star
discusses the kind of marquee that should be returned to the Revue.
MAKE IT VINTAGE, FOLKS! And for heaven’s sake resist the urge to make it some LED driven flashing signboard – let’s see a vintage marquee reproduction befitting a 1911 survivor!
Naturally I have to chime in that this was a SCHINE theater. Great marquee for a little side street theater!
Theatre Historical Society will be visiting the GRAND LAKE this summer as a part of Conclave 2009 – San Jose & Around the Bay. So it is VERY exciting to see this stunning full color photo! Watch Cinema Treasures for a special Conclave Registration offer just for Cinema Treasures members — we’d love to have you join us!
Karen Colizzi Noonan,
NLSP – that was a beautiful and touching remembrance of the National. Please email me at
Does anyone know if this ss this the former Schine Athena Theater?
Here are some photos of the Colonia from a recent trip through Norwich:
This was a hard one to lose. A late period theater, yes, but still a movie palace in the modern-classic sense of the word. So many people tried to sway the Cultural Heritage Commission to help preserve the style and grace of this theater. All fell on deaf ears. As Charlie points out, let’s use this as a wake up call to get involved sooner, louder and more passionately in future battles. We can no longer treat America’s architecture as disposable commodities!
Look closely at this photo of the site of the demolished Yeadon. Note the building to the right of the photo, the Yeadon FIRE DEPARTMENT!
A happy discovery among the rubble – bits of the Yeadon facade:
It is most certainly demolished. All that remains is a neatly groomed square of land, ready for redevelopment. However, a little closer inspection of the gravel unveiled several chunks of ceramic facade material which will now make their way to the Theatre Historical Society’s archive in Elmhurst. IL. Not sure if any effort was made by the local preservation groups to save any major ornamental details. From the photos listed here, it looks to have been a really nice house. Such a shame for the people of Yeadon.
On a recent trip through Chester PA with friends, we were surprised to find a vacant lot where 20-24 should have been. Did I miss the memo?