Olympic Theater

10 Broadway,
Buffalo, NY 14203

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Olympic Theater

The Olympic Theater is listed in the 1914/1915 edition of American Motion Picture Directory. The address is given as Genesee Street.

A 3 manual Wurlitizer theater pipe organ, Opus 563 was shipped to this theater on July 29, 1922. The Olympic Theater was operated by the Universal Pictures chain by 1927. It was closed by 1929 and was immediately demolished. What happened to the organ is unknown.

Contributed by Ret. AKC(NAC) Bob Jensen

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

arl on February 8, 2008 at 3:05 pm

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.

TivFan on January 15, 2013 at 10:25 am

Some sites with information about the Rand Building state: “…built on the site of the 1903 Olympic Theatre.” The Rand was built in 1929, replacing the Olympic and the Park Hop German Restaurant (on the corner of Broadway & Washington). Was the Olympic a “remodeled” church (as commented above) or was it a new structure? The building to the left of the Olympic is the Buffalo German Insurance Company. It was 81 years old when it was demolished in 1957 for the current Tishman Building. The Tishman was completed in 1959.

TivFan on January 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

I have two post cards showing the Olympic Theatre. One (c. 1919-20) shows the Olympic with a large horizontal sign, atop the roof, which states: CONTINUOUS VAUDEVILLE. Behind this sign is a water tank. On top of the canopy, is a sign which says: THE MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY / 5 BIG TIME ACTS / MATINEES XXXX SEATS 10 CENTS (XXXX is not readable). The other card (post marked 1923) shows the new Lafayette Theatre and building and the Olympic. In this view, there are two billboard ads over top of the CONTINUOUS VAUDEVILLE sign. This photo is badly doctored and tinted.

TivFan on January 18, 2013 at 9:08 am

First, a CORRECTION to my January 15/10:25 comment: The name of the restaurant next to the Olympic is called the Park Hof, not Hop. This post card can be seen at:
http://wnyheritagepress.org—on the home page, click on “PICTORIALS”/then under “DOWNTOWN BUFFALO”, click on “14 Lafayette Square-Rand Building”. The postcard shows the Olympic, the New Lyric and a partial look at a theater on the site of the future Lafayette Theatre and Building (at Washington & Broadway).
This web site is great. It has a lot of great shots of old Buffalo and the surrounding area.

TivFan on January 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

There are a lot of great photos, on the WNY Heritage site, that show what was on the property before (and after) the Olympic Theatre existed. There is some contradictory information and the term “remodel” is used a few times to describe a change to the building. The photos seem to show a new structure replacing a former. If the building had been “remodelled”, it was drastically changed. I guess further research would confirm either. From the photo captions and text on the site, I have pieced together a history of the Olympic Theatre. It is similar to the above “arl”/2008 comment, with a little more info and direction to the various photos. If you’re interested, read on…

TivFan on January 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm

In the 1830’s, the property was used as a lumberyard. From 1833, a number of churches were established, but failed, on the site. In 1845, a new church named the Park Church Society was successful and was later renamed the Lafayette Street Presbyterian Church. A fire destroyed this church in 1850 and was rebuilt. This structure existed until 1862, when it was demolished and a new church was built. The congregation moved in 1896 and the building was sold. It was remodelled into the Lafayette Theatre, with Burlesque as its attraction. This theater operated from 1901-1913, when the owners moved to the new Gayety Theatre. In 1914, the new owners remodelled the building for movies and vaudeville. As of 1922, only movies were presented. In 1924, the Marine Trust Company purchased the Olympic and, shortly after, demolished it (along with the Park Hof Restaurant) and built the Rand Building. The Rand opened in 1929 and still exists.

TivFan on January 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm

A bit about the Hof…a private residence existed on the site (a part of the former lumberyard) until 1908, when it was torn down and the Park Hof Restaurant was built. Later, the Park Hof became the Lafayette National Bank, for a brief time, which was taken over by the Marine Trust Company. Eventually, the Marine purchased the Olympic and demolished both for the Rand Building.

TivFan on January 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Photos of the Olympic Theatre (an its former incarnations) can be seen here: wnyheritagepress.org— go to the home page and click on “PICTORIALS”/then under “DOWNTOWN BUFFALO”, click on “10 Lafayette Square” (1/Lafayette St. Church—2/Lafayette Theatre. Click on “14 Lafayette Square” (3/Lafayette St. Church—4/Lafayette Theatre, c.1905—5/Olympic, c.—1915—6/Olympic, c.1920 post card. 7/Olympic, c.1918—above and at link/April 21, 2008 (Direct links or addresses do not work.)

TivFan on January 21, 2013 at 9:49 pm

THE MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY mentioned in my Jan. 15/11:15 comment, may be a Tanhouser serial. In June of 1914, the Tanhouser Syndicate Film Corporation released its first episode of “The Million Dollar Mystery”, a 23-episode cliffhanger serial. An advertising slide and text on the serial can be seen at: www.starts-thursday.com / scroll down and on the right there is a list of “Featured Slides” / select “Million…”. The showing at the Olympic may have been current, so the card/photo may date back to 1914/15. This card can be seen at the Western New York Heritage site (see Jan. 18 comment).

TivFan on February 11, 2013 at 8:07 am

More Olympic Theatre photos at wnyheritagepress.org/under “DOWNTOWN BUFFALO”/click on “Washington & Broadway – 1920-Present”/see a photo showing the Olympic and the Lafayette Theatre. Click on “Lafayette Square – then & now”/click on view 2/see a postcard of Lafayette Square showing the Lafayette Theatre (pre-Olympic) and the Lyric Theatre on the corner.

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