Manlius Art Cinema

135 E. Seneca Street,
Manlius, NY 13104

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Manlius Art Cinema

It is in the village of Manlius, NY in the greater Syracuse metropolitan area. Originally opened as the Colonial Theatre

Contributed by Anne-Marie Thompson

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

MarkNYLA on July 21, 2008 at 6:07 am

This is a rare still existing example of the “shooting gallery” style of theatre construction occasionally seen in the late 1920s. The Manlius has a long narrow auditorium with a fixed size screen that is barely 1:1.85. At one time, scope films were shown thru a Magnacom and “letterboxed” on the screen, although quite often the film spilled over on the walls. I don’t know if this is still the practice.

The theatre was very popular in the mid-to-late seventies and early eighties, during the last great art film era. It was at the Manlius that I was introduced to films like The Tin Drum, Eraserhead, Wifemistress, Return of the Secaucus Seven, Tree of Wooden Clogs and many others. By the late 80’s, owner Nat Tobin sold the screen to a local grocery store owner who switched the programming to sub-run. He couldn’t make a go of it, though, and attempted to auction the theatre off in 1990. I attended the auction hoping to buy it. However, it was obvious that none of the few bids submitted would be sufficient, so he wound up buying it back himself for a bid of $90,000.

The last time I was in the theatre, which was many years ago, it was in deplorable condition with a large puddle of water covering the carpet in the first few rows of seats (but it was still open nonetheless). I believe Nat Tobin has the house back now; he also had the Westcott until a few years ago.

nattobin on October 26, 2010 at 8:08 am

I first took over the management of the Manlius Art Cinema in 1992 so I was not involved with the failed auction. Scope films are still letterboxed due to the screen size and building limitations. We are quite proud of our place in the community and the staying power of the cinema. It is the oldest in Central New York and one of the oldest cinemas in the country.

Nat Tobin

CSWalczak on May 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm

The theater is going digital: View link

Texas2step on May 14, 2018 at 5:13 pm

The address is 135 East Seneca Street. This one was also known as the Colonial Theatre. The Strand reopened as the Colonial on September 14, 1948.

David_Schneider on May 22, 2018 at 12:20 pm

I love coming across cute little cinemas like this.

First time I’ve seen what MarkNYLA in his July 21st, 2008 comment calls an example of “shotgun style theatre construction” still in operation. (Are there others?)

Reminds me some of the Monarch Theater in Chicago (that is now a car wash?!).

Another I find cute which is also old and still operating is the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla, New Mexico.

Does anyone else have their own cute favorites to share?

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