Showing 1 - 25 of 30 comments
Some early Buffalo history. Opening day and night attendance was 25,000. The first feature was
“The Melting Pot” with Adolph Menjou. A 45 piece orchestra provided the music. Available for
opening night patrons were a women’s smoking room, a first aid room with a nurse, and a women's
cosmetic room. Up to 50 ushers were available each day. Ushers wore patent leather shoes, and
the head ushers carried swagger sticks. Seats were 30 cents till 1:00, 40 cents from 1:00-5:00, and
65 cents after 5:00. The Buffalo was Sheas fourth theater, after the Hippodrome, North Park, and
having once owned the Court St. He also had 2 theaters in Toronto. Vincent McFaul was the first
manager, and after Shea died in 1935, he ran the whole organization. Through the 1920s and
1930s, the Buffalo had the finest stage shows and revues in the city. Needless to say all the movie
features were first run. Close to 90,000 people might visit the theater in a really good week.
I’ll give some more post 1930s history, when I find the rest of my notes.
More Paramount information. While Fox and Loews originally ran this theater, Micheal Shea, with
Paramount as a partner took over in 1931. At this point Shea had an interest in all the major
downtown theaters, except the Lafayette. In early 1934 the Great Lakes went dark. Other
operators couldn’t get the theater reopened (claiming Shea monopolized the product) and
Sheas under Vincent McFaul (Shea died in 1935), reopened that year, and stayed under that
management until 1949. The theater breakup in 1949, gave the Great Lakes to Paramount, and
also the name change. In 1951, Edward Miller began managing the Paramount, and did so
until the end in 1965. 51 people saw the last show in the 3300 seat theater on February 20,
Some other data, a furniture store occupied the upper levels for most years. A silent theater
for only one year, the “Jazz Singer” debuted in 1928. Vaudeville was ended in 1932. AC installed
in 1936. Admission dropped as low as 25 cents in the 1930s, but was up to 65 cents in 1945.
“Gone with the WInd” showed here in 1940 at $1.10 per seat. Dennis Day was brought in,
to open the “New” Paramount in 1949. 75,000 pairs of 3-D glasses were obtained for the
showing of “House of Wax”, which was 2nd only to GWTW for attendance.
Alknobloch, you are correct, the theater did have a marquee that came out to the curb. I never
actually saw the theater, but have a picture from the mid 50s, when it was a church, and the
marquee was still in place.
Some later Hippodrome history starting in 1938, when air conditioning was added. The last live
entertainment was in 1941 (Major Bowes), and during the war years admission went from 25 cents
to 40 cents. Also during this period, the “Hipp” and the Buffalo were sold by the Shea Estate to
Loews Chain and Vincent Mc Faul, for $2M. After this big movies that opened at the Buffalo, then
went to the Hippodrome. In 1949, as stated the name changed to Center and a redo took place. Also live entertainment returned for a period, including Nat Cole and Peggy Lee. In 1952, a closed
circuit opera was shown, and in 1952 “The Greatest Show on Earth” attracted 60, 000 patrons
in 3 weeks. A Marciano fight at $3 a head was also shown in this period. Buffalo’s first 3-D
movie “Bwana Devil” also shown here. The late 50s and 60s brought decline, and the division
into 3 theaters in 1967. Closed in 1975, demolished in 1983,
There were actually three Lovejoy Theaters. (And because of renumbering of Lovejoy St, there may
some address confusion). The first theater was a storefront, known as the Lovejoy Palace. This
opened around 1909, and closed in the teens. The second Lovejoy was opened in 1919 by Sam
Rappaport. He also ran the nearby Avon for some years. This Lovejoy was closed in the 1940s,
but soon after this family opened the New Lovejoy at 1169 Lovejoy. This was an Art Deco Theatre
designed by William Spann. This was the last new, single screen theater, built in the city of
Buffalo. The Rappaport ran the show until 1975. New owners reopened the theater and ran
it until 1979. Later the City took it over, and converted it into an indoor swimming pool.
The second Lovejoy was a grocery for time, its present status unknown.
The Lincoln Theater opened around 1911. This 300 seat theater was run by the Nowak Family
from the 1910s until the 1930s, when a relative Ray Kulkowski took over and managed to
keep the Lincoln open until 1970, much longer than most of the small theaters in Buffalo.
It was even reopened after that and run as a $1.00 house until 1982. In its last
years, it was known as the Nickleodeon.
This theater opened in 1914 as the Art Theater. In 1927 the name was changed to Grand.
At this time the theater was run by Matthew Konczakowski, who later had a four theater
chain in Buffalo. The theater did have a Wurlitzer Organ at one time. For short period, the
theater was also known as the “Star”. From the early 1940s until closing in 1951, the
show was run by Sophie Cebulski. It became an auto parts store, and has been vacant for
a long period.
The Strand Theater on Main St was referred to as the Strand and Mark Strand, it was operated
by Mitchell and Moe Mark, who also ran the Mark Strand in New York City. Mitchell Mark died in
1918, and Moe ran the both theatres, and one in Rochester after that.
Information on the original Strand Theater is under Mark Strand.
Haven’t been back there in 20 years, don’t know if the building still exists.
The Sheldon opened around 1910. Early on known as the Genesee and A Huttelmeyers. The name
Sheldon was used after 1912. The theater had about 300 seats, with the owners often
living on the second floor. The Sheldon closed late in 1952, becoming a furniture
store for a period, then a residence.
The theater was the yellow building, an apartment when the photo was taken in the late 1980s.
The Riverside and the Kensington Theaters both opened on Christmas Day 1926. There had also
been a Riverside Theater at 855 Tonawanda St in the 1910s. This theater (#824) was part of the
Schine Chain, which had about 60 theaters running in the Eastern US when it ran the Riverside.
Schines also ran the Granada Theater in Buffalo. A number of other businesses were in the
same building with the theater. The foyer and lobby ran between these businesses, with the
auditorium behind them. The theater also had a Wurlitzer Organ. The Riverside closed in
May 1961, and became an indoor skiing center for a few years. It became vacant after this
venture and was torn down years later.
There has been a theater at 1065 Grant St since 1912. Originally known as the Tryit Theater,
in the 1920s it became the New Tryit and was probably rebuilt in this period. It then became
the Unity Theater, a name that was kept until early 1970s. It was run by the Gammel Chain
for a number of years, often running Polish and Hungarian films, along with second run
films. The Unity became the Showplace in 1972, and began showing $1.00 second runs.
This was the last single screen, second run theater in Buffalo, finally closing in the later
1980s. It became a rock concert venue after that.
The Genesee Theater opened in 1928, in a structure called the Genesee Theater Building. It
was an Adams style theater by archiect Harold Spann. The building housed several other
businesses. The Genesee was run by the Basil Family and was their major theater and offices,
until they acquired the Lafayette Theater in the 1940s. This was the last theater in the Basil
Chain and was closed in 1966. Other interests re-opened the Genesee in 1970 and X-rated
films were shown there, along with second run films until around 1979. The entire structure
was leveled in 1985. The chandelier in the Genesee went to the Riviera Theater in North
The original Strand Theater was on Main St in downtown Buffalo. It closed in 1923, the same
year the Clinton St Strand opened. It was a two story brick structure that also housed two
small stores. Nicholas Basil and his brothers opened this theater, and operated it until it
closed. This family eventually ran a 10 theater circuit. The Strand was a second run house,
with little nearby competition. It closed in 1962, the same year Basil closed their flagship
Lafayette Theater in downtown Buffalo. It became the Strand Ballroom, after the movies
ended. In the 1980s it was known as Autumnwood Manor.
This theater opened around 1915 as the Emblem Theater.It was a free standing two story
brick structure with a balcony and a Wurlitzer organ. In 1933 it became the Jefferson
Theater and part of the Basil chain. In 1940 the Apollo Theater also run by Basil opened
just up the street. Its closing date is unclear, as Basil stopped listing it in 1945, but it
was in the City Directory until 1950. It became a furniture store in the 1950s, and was
razed sometime later.
This brick one story neighborhood theater opened in 1914. The Masque was an independent
theater, run by Max Levine in the 1920s and early 1930s. Louis Sanella operated the theater
from the late 1930s until the 1950s. The theater closed around 1956, and became a church
shortly afterwards. Until the mid 1920s the address was 345 Elk St, it changed to 445 South
Park when Elk St was shortened and became South Park.
I believe the address given is correct, I am sure it was on the southwest corner of Main
and Fillmore, at the point.
This theater was located at 12 Broadway, present site of the Rand Building. Originally a
church, it was remodeled in 1901 to become the Lafayette Burlesque. In 1914, a $35,000
remodeling made it the Olympic Theater. Vaudeville and some movies were shown, until
1922, when a movies only policy began. The Olympic was very close to all the new movie
palaces that were opening on Main St, and probably couldn’t compete. It was purchased
in mid 1920s and was immediately torn down. It was replaced by the Rand Building,
Buffalo’s tallest structure, at that time.
This theater closed on April 29,1950, becoming a market, later a drug store in the 1980s,
Later a rental center.
In regards to LuisV inquiry. Unfortunately the theater was torn down shortly after closing.
It was brick structure with terra cotta facade, designed by Henry and William Spahn. The
interior was Adams Style. There was no balcony, and plaques of Teddy Roosevelt were
in the waiting area.
Stanley Kosanowski opened this theater, and continued to run it until the mid 1960s. He
often showed Polish movies and religious films, along with second run films. Kosanowski
filed a suit in the mid 1940s against Sheas, who ran the nearby Roosevelt, claiming he
was unable to get good films because of Shea’s monopoly of the area. The suit was
eventually thrown out. The theater closed for a period in the mid 1960s, opening again
in the 1970s , as the Old Rivoli. Now anything was shown, including X-rated films.
After closing in the late 1970s, it was sold at a tax foreclosure sale for $1,000. The
building was razed in 1984.
The Mercury was opened in 1938 by Dewey Micheals, who also ran the Palace Burlesk. It was
built in an existing 4 story building. The remodeling for the 300 seat theater cost $15,000.
Being downtown, the theater was open all day, initially showing art and foreign films. A few
years later, the Mercury began showing everything, adult films, revivals, B movies, and even
some first run films. In 1953, Micheals said he was closing the theater, even though it
was making some money, the building had been leased to Buffalo Optical. Years later the
building was razed for the Goldome Bank complex.
This theater opened in 1914, as the Linden. It was closed in the late 1920s, re-opening in
1931. In 1933 the name was changed to the Majestic. (There were other Majestic theaters
in Buffalo). The theater had film delivery problems at this time, because it was giving away
groceries, as a promotion, which violated a section of the Motion Picture Code. In 1938
the name was changed again to the Stadium, connected with the Colonial and Columbia
theaters. It closed a year later, only to re-open for a few weeks in 1940 as the Cine Roma.
Finally closing for good that year. The picture posted by Lost Memory was taken in the