Auburn Schine Theater

12-14 South Street,
Auburn, NY 13021

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Showing 1 - 25 of 76 comments

SchineHistorian on August 21, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Just because someone loves it, doesn’t mean it will live forever. Let this be a cautionary tale for the Auburn Schine theater… time is NOT on your side!

Bucyrus Community Theatre too far gone to be saved (June 5, 2013)

BUCYRUS OH — Mayor Roger Moore informed Bucyrus City Council on Tuesday night that a downtown treasure soon will be torn down.

The board of directors met with city officials and have made the decision to terminate renovations of the Bucyrus Community Theatre.

“It is with deep regret that I must inform council and the citizens of this. It has come time to end the project,” Moore said.

Moore said the decision was based on many factors, most notably the severe deterioration of the structure and the lack of funding for the project.

Resident Joe Armbruster has spearheaded the renovation efforts the past 12 years.

“I must commend Joe and others. I know how he feels bad about not being able to complete it,” Moore said.

He added he hopes funding can be secured to demolish the building at 300 S. Sandusky Ave. “very soon.”

“A lot of people put their life and soul into the project. The building is just too far gone at this point,” Moore said.

One hurdle to funding the restoration was the exclusion of the building from the Bucyrus Historical District. Because it sits one block south of that district, the State of Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission would not release funding.

“I give Joe and the board five stars for being able to know when the time was right to make the final call on the curtain and end their efforts in restoring this building,” Moore said.


See link for photo:

SchineHistorian on September 9, 2012 at 2:38 am

NOTICE! SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2012 1:00 – 3:00 Join together with concerned citizens and friends of the Auburn Schine Theater to celebrate her 74th birthday and rally to press the theater’s owners to move quickly, publicly and purposefully to protect this National Treasure! As one of Eberson’s only remaining Art Deco style theaters, this important structure deserves fiscally responsible, personally dedicated, honestly transparent and forward thinking leadership. If you believe this theater is truly endangered at this point, please join your voices on Sept 15. (Besides, there will be cake!)

aubcinjim51 on October 24, 2011 at 2:18 am

Stop by our website for details on the Auburn Schine Theater at

SchineHistorian on March 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm

My sincere apologies — NO implication was intended Don!

I simply meant that if anyone who reads this would like to support the Schine restoration and purchase postcards for themselves they can contact that email address, which is for one of the Save Our Schine team members. Now that i re-read my post i realize it was not specific that it invited anyone who wants a copy to contact SOS. Since there is no mechanism to edit posts, please allow this to stand as a correction and clarification.

When i said “all entities work together” I meant the long-standing internal struggle in the City of Auburn that has stymied this project for close to 2 decades now. Thank you so much for showcasing this excellent photo of the Schine’s heyday – people would not recognize it today from this stunning photo. It needs much love and MUCH care.

This is one of my all time favorite theaters and i would love more than anything in the world to see it reopened and in all its glory once again. I appreciate your taking the opportunity to share it with the Cinema Treasures audience. – Karen

SchineHistorian on March 5, 2011 at 5:34 am

Stunning, isn’t it?! And it can be again… if all entities could just work together.

Please remember that this postcard is available from the Save Our Schine organization as a FUND RAISER. Please don’t download and/or copy for distribution. Copies can be purchased by contacting

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm


pruzicka on August 27, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I forgot to add that this group I have assembled has a wide demographic we range in age from mid-twenties to eighties, and from retirees to professionals the joining thread is the desire to preserve this magnificent theater and masterpiece of architecture.
I must add there is a lot of local support we put my antique car in two parades and our message was “Let’s Finish the Schine’s”! We had many people cheer when we passed by and many comments in favor of this project! I truly feel that this is a very important part of the contemporary history of Auburn. This is what forms the major character of any region is its history and treasures….

pruzicka on August 27, 2010 at 9:13 pm

The group in the above pasted article was formed in response to an ad published in the local paper. The response to the ad was all in favor to restore the Schine’s and the group was formed out of those that cared enough to try and work to preserve this theater. I have incorporated this group in March of this year, and the Citizens for the Schine’s and Betterment of Downtown Auburn Inc. was officially formed. We have been trying to work with the Arts Council, who recently reorganized, but request to meet and discuss the project were meet with silence. We then decided that we would join the Arts Council to work with them internally and most of us now are members of the Arts Council. One of our members finally got a meeting with the new Arts Council President, Jim Loperfido, who finally allowed us to at least clean-up the trash, debris, and start to defoliation of the overgrowth. This recent article demonstrates our group’s commitment to the restoration of the Schine’s and our willingness to help.

SchineHistorian on August 23, 2010 at 4:57 pm

From today’s CITIZEN –

New group tries to polish up Schine

AUBURN â€" Shirley Martinez remembers going to see movies at the Schine Theater when she was a child, and from the candy counter to the restrooms in the basement where you could weigh yourself on a scale for a penny, the details remain etched in her memory today, years after the theater closed down.

Martinez, of Auburn, and about 15 others have started a new group called Citizens for Schine and the Betterment of Downtown Auburn, Inc. that is now focusing on cleaning up the historic Schine Theater in an attempt to make it safer and possibly someday restored.

“We need to do something,” she said. “If we can do something with it for the community, it would be for the better.”

The group has its work cut out for it.

Over time, the South Street buildingâ€\s art deco facade has grown dirty and the back of the building has been vandalized and used as a repository for garbage, car tires, dead trees and a shopping cart. Martinez pointed out that not only is the building becoming unsightly, but itâ€\s also becoming dangerous.

“If there was ever a fire, it would be bad,” she said.

In addition to a fire hazard, the rubble also creates a place for unseen mischief, Martinez said.

The group incorporated in March, said chair Peter Ruzicka, of Auburn. Members started cleaning a couple weeks ago. They removed some of the garbage out from behind the theater and also gave some attention to the buildingâ€\s facade.

Martinez said the city has agreed to pick up the trash from the cleanup effort as long as itâ€\s bagged properly, while a few Vietnam War veterans have volunteered to take away some larger pieces of rubble, such as broken pallets.

“Weâ€\re trying to do it as best we can,” she said. “Itâ€\s going to take time.”

Both Martinez and Ruzicka said it will be awhile before the group can begin work inside the theater due to asbestos that is in the ceiling. Weeding, removing trash and cleaning the outside of the windows and doors will have to suffice for now.

“We want to start outside and move in,” Martinez said.

Daniel Waters said working outside and being visible raises awareness, shows that someone is devoting time to the Schine and may interest community members in joining the cause.

Martinez said the new group hopes to work alongside the Cayuga County Arts Council, which owns the Schine, to restore the once-magnificent theater, built in 1938.

“Both of our groups want to work together,” she said. “We want to be a force with a force.”

The Citizens for Schine have just been accepted as members of the arts council, Martinez added.

Ruzicka said he heard from the arts council that, should the theaterâ€\s rehabilitation go well, the Schine may become a multi-use facility with 1,000 seats.

“Itâ€\s the biggest part of the contemporary history of Auburn,” he said.

Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll

dplomin1954 on August 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I hope that this theater gets past the obstacles and is restored soon. Am I the only one that has noticed that the difference between the vintage pics and the recent ones are the lack (or absence) of ANY traffic, be it people or cars? Was that on purpose, or does it only make Auburn seem like a ghost town?

SchineHistorian on June 4, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Louis – I just sent you an email. Let me know if you don’t get it.
– Karen

LouisRugani on June 4, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I posted it, and you may call me Louis. The purpose of Cinema Treasures is to preserve and disseminate the history of film theatres, much of which is very elusive. In the case of this rare and (obviously) historic article, its source and date were inadvertently omitted but in retrospect it actually holds the CCAC up to praise for its successful in-progress efforts since those earlier dark days. Perhaps it will inspire further support.

pruzicka on June 3, 2010 at 8:20 pm

The post above by Lewis Rugani was a very old newspaper article and the information in it is not current! This dates long before the building was under the stewardship of the Cayuga County Arts Council why someone would post this is unbelievable. This is not the true situation at this time and to repost this very old article is just meant to be detrimental to the ongoing project and presenting something that is currently just not true!
Look at the site just copy and paste into your brouser the following:
This is a better representation of what it looks like today! The community at large wants this theater restored! However, local politics are the largest obstacle here. The Arts Council, who as I previously stated, has stewardship of the building is a not for profit organization. They have not been able to secure grant funding because of this lack of local political support. The building is stable and the largest obstacle other than the aforementioned political issue is the asbestos in the building from its original construction. Having been built in the late 1930’s and opened in 1939, this material was very commonly used. Plans to renovate this and make it into a multiuse performing arts facility were revisited in 2007 but again politics were the obstacle.

SchineHistorian on March 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Tick… tick… tick… tick….

TLSLOEWS on March 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Thats Art Deco alright!!

LouisRugani on January 14, 2010 at 2:01 am

Security deposit halts foreclosure on vacant theater building
By Tim Knuss
Staff Writer
AUBURN â€" City officials accepted a security deposit â€" rather than full payment of more than $20.000 in back taxes â€" when they agreed not to foreclose on a property owned in part by Corporation Counsel John J. Pettigrass.
A state tax official in Albany said he is not familiar with the case, but knows of no legal authority for such an arrangement, which he called “unique."
Pettigrass. who is paid $35,708 a year in his part-time capacity as city corporation counsel, is a member of a real-estate partnership that owns the vacant Auburn Star Theater building on South Street.
Despite owing $21,000 plus penalties in back taxes, Pentagon Realty retained ownership of the vacant theater after failing to carry out a special repayment agreement authorized in 1983 by the City Council.
Pclligrass made payments totaling $9.600 in December. But Pentagon Realty still owes $11,377 in back taxes, about $1,000 in 1965 taxes and an undetermined amount in penalities, according to records in the city treasurer’s office. Pettigrass was out of town on business
Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. His son, John, said Pentagon Realty is a small, family-held partnership. Meanwhile, $10,000 in negotiable bonds that Pettigrass gave the city ss "security” last November have not been cashed. The bonds will be returned to Pettigrass if he and his partners pay up before the next tax auction in June, City Manager Bruce L. Clifford said. “The bond was a deposit on future payments. If he wants to pay us the $10,000,
then he can have the bond back,” Clifford said. Clifford said he knew of no other instances when collateral had been accepted from a delinquent taxpayer.
The former movie theater, which once housed a bar, but has been seldom used in the last two years, was not offered for sale at tax auctions last November and January. Clifford said Pentagon defaulted on its two-year repayment agreement by not making any payments, but said he was reluctant to foreclose on the property. “We could call in the balance (and foreclose), but then the question becomes do we have a buyer for (the theater)?” Clifford said. The theater was purchased by Pentagon Realty in 1978 and first became eligible for
foreclosure in 1983 after property taxes and penalties totaling ,461 had not been paid. In August 1983, Pentagon, represented by Pettigrass, made a down payment of $7,865 and agreed to pay $1,089 a month for 21 months to clear the bill. The agreement was authorized by the City Council under a special provision of the Real Property
Tax Law. Bui no payments were received from Pentagon prior to November 1981, when Pettigrass offered the bonds as security.
Karl Thurston Jr., Pettigrass' law partner and Auburn’s assistant corporation counsel, said he handles most of the city’s foreclosures, but than he waits for Clifford’s decision on when to foreclose on a property. Thurston said it was not unreasonable
for Clifford to accept a deposit from Pettigrass. “There are (legal) provisions for making repayment schedules — if you can get collateral, so much the boiler. Anything you can get is helpful,“ Thurston said. Hut an attorney at the state Office of Equalization and Assessment in Albany said the arrangement sounded "unique.” “I’ve never heard of this being done. I don’t know of any statutory authority for a city to withhold foreclosure in return for a bond,” Associate Attorney Richard Sinnott said. “They would probably have to have special authorization in the city charter for something like that,” Sinnott said. Thurston said he does not feel the arrangement required special legal authority. No provisions in the city charter relate to that issue.

SchineHistorian on August 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Tick, tick, tick, tick……

ERD on June 17, 2009 at 11:33 pm

I hope the proper people can collectively get their act together and effectively restore this unique theatre soon. Time is passing.

SchineAdvocate1 on March 24, 2009 at 5:00 am

The Schine’s Auburn Theater is indeed one of the greatest of the remaining movie palaces, and without a doubt one of Eberson’s greatest works.

One only has to tour the severely water damaged, but structurally sound building to realize that this place is still alive. As one tours the lobbies, the men’s and ladies lounges, the great staircases, the balcony, the location of the original candy counter, the projection booth, and the hidden backstage dressing rooms to realize that there are ghosts here, who long to tell you of this city’s, and this nation’s past, and who long to point us in a new direction.

Auburn is a fascinating city, with a storied past. We have a number of great treasures here, including the home of William Seward, who of course was Abraham Lincoln’s rival but eventual Secrectary of State. Seward is soon to be remembered in our first annual Founder’s Day celebration, which will hopefully be highlighted by a visit by Governor Sarah Palin. Seward House is also hoped to play a role in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”, which is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals.

Auburn was also the location of Harriet Tubman’s home, which is soon to become a National Park. Our South Street, which is the address for both Tubman and Seward’s homes, will therefore be a one of a kind historic walking tour, highly unique for a city of this size.

Auburn is a blue collar town, an industrial town at heart. It is a prison town, which still boasts a large maximum security correctional facility in its center. And it’s historical figures include the Osborne family, which was instrumental in prison reform in the first half of the 20th century.

Auburn is a fantastic sports town which has tremendous roots in baseball, still going strong in our Falcon Park, a very popular minor league venue located in the center of a small city neighborhood, a relic that is becoming an endangered species in modern times. This is a living, and vital center of summers in this community. And we have one of the greatest of high school football venues in our Holland Stadium, a bowl shaped park built into a hillside during the rebuilding efforts of the nation during the Great Depression, and still a great center of pride.

And Auburn has a vibrant arts and theatrical community, perhaps best exemplified by the Merry Go Round Theater, situated on Owasco Lake. This local venue has steadily grown into a major force in off broadway summer musical theater productions in the northeast.

Currently, there are a number of factors that therefore bode well for the restoration of the Schine’s Auburn, which indeed shoud be the centerpiece of Auburn’s revival. The Stardust Foundation has been a leader in number of new, and innovative efforts toward the resurrection of our downtown, and toward the future of this city. The aforementioned Tubman Home is soon to be a National Park, allowing for a great influx of interest and tourism to the area. The Seward House continues to raise important historical attention, and will only expand upon this during this year’s Founder’s Day, and the upcoming Spielberg “Lincoln” film.

And perhaps most importantly, and organization known as Musical Theater Festival is in its early stages, which has a grand vision of using the Merry Go Round Theater as a seed to create what can only be described as a new Broadway, with multiple venues of varying sizes, in the the Finger Lakes, with the epicenter in downtown Auburn. This indeed may transform downtown Auburn into a major theater district, just as it was back in the 1930’s to 1950’s.

The Schine’s Auburn Theater indeed should be in the forefront of all of the above plans. This venue is like no other, locally or nationally. This theater can serve as the main venues for Musical Theater Festival, or if not able to serve their needs can still serve as a major Performing Arts Center that will be utilized by the entire cross section of Auburn’s citizens, as well as those traveling to the area.

The past 15 years of attempts at restoration of the Schines’s have not been without their frustrations. Indeed, what started as a strong and committed grassroots effort eventually floundered, and various difficulties have resulted in delays and roadblocks. Unfortunately, this caused great friction and divisions to occur, along with loss of confidence in the public. Nonetheless, those who were involved in the initial grassroots effot need to continue to be proud and realize that they SAVED this landmark, and the building still stands, ready for restoration.

Many now believe that now is the time for true collaboration, to make the vision a reality. This vision of a restored Schine’s Auburn as the central site of a new theater district in downtown is of the utmost importance for Auburn, and for that matter for all of us who recognize the importance of great American landmarks in the fabric of not only our past, but our America’s future.

We ask that all interested folks pay attention over the ensuing months; lend positive support, advice, and investment whenever and wherever possible. As an Auburnian, American, and Schine Theater Advocate, thank you for listening.

Patsy on January 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Lost: I wish the powers to be in Auburn would get their act together and restore this exceptional art deco theatre!

Patsy on December 12, 2008 at 7:41 pm

I agree with a Ho! Ho! Ho! :)

Patsy on December 12, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Yeah, and I guess the fact that the sun is shining and there is no snow in sight makes it a nice photo for local residents of Auburn NY. One of my wishes for ‘09 is to see this theatre restored or on its way to restoration!

Patsy on September 15, 2008 at 11:27 pm

SchineHistorian: Thanks for posting this important and timely article! An important phone number and address is now available for anyone who wants to become active in the art council’s many projects so that this theatre can become the art council’s MAJOR PROJECT for however long it takes to bring this theatre back to the citizens of Auburn!

SchineHistorian on September 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm

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 “The Pageant of Progress.” 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 “first hand” 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 “tweaking it just a little.” 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 “Art in the Park” 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.