Town Hall Theater

5428 Shady Avenue,
Lowville, NY 13367

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The Town Hall Theater was originally an opera house, a USO club and a silent movie house that opened on May 6, 1926. In 1949 the building was purchased by motion picture pioneer Earnest J. Wolf after his Bijou Theater in town burned to the ground.

Earnest hired a well known architect Michael De Angelis of Rochester to design the theater remodeling. The interior was designed and painted by the famous Oscar Gias of New York City. Anselm Cannan of Lowville was in charge of the construction work. It was heralded as the most outstanding and beautiful theater in Northern New York. Nick and Rena Giannocous purchased the theater from the Wolf family in 1957. The O'Brien family purchased from Nick and Rena in September of 1990.

Contributed by Patrick A. O' Brien

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

Patsy
Patsy on August 22, 2010 at 1:26 pm

pobrien: Nice to see some great interior photos of a theatre that was designed by DeAngelis who also designed by hometown theatre, the Grand in Westfield NY. Unfortunately, the powers to be demolished it in the mid 90’s. I was living in south FL at the time and wasn’t around to help save this art deco cinema treasure. I noticed your screen name being “pobrien” so I assume you are one of the family owners. Keep CT posted on any and all progress. Where is Lowville NY located as I am in Western NYS and would love to visit your area and tour the Lowville Town Hall Theater. In the Fall I hope to visit another DeAngelis designed theatre, the Strand in Brockport NY.

Patsy
Patsy on August 22, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Just read that you are about an hour north of Utica. Will let you know if we come your way.

MPol
MPol on August 22, 2010 at 8:05 pm

It looks like a nifty little theatre, both inside and out. Too bad that the powers-that-be chose to demolish it instead of doing what they could do to save it from the wrecking ball.

pobrien
pobrien on September 7, 2010 at 9:55 am

View link

Recent article on the Town Hall Theater

Patsy
Patsy on September 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

Patrick: I just printed out the article that you posted on September 7. Would love to see your DeAngelis designed theatre someday. Please email me at at your convenience to set up a possible tour. Current plans later this Fall are to see the Strand in Brockport NY which is also a DeAngelis theatre.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm

New link to 1949 trade article cited above by Joe Vogel: boxoffice

pobrien
pobrien on July 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm

The Town Hall Theater has beat the odds and has made a successful transition to digital projection. We installed a brand new silver screen in 2011 followed in 2012 by installation of a Chrisitie series II projector, new surround sound and realD 3D.

adamghost
adamghost on August 23, 2013 at 3:51 am

Digitized archives of the Journal and Republican and Lowville Times pinpoint the opening of the Opera House to May 6, 1926.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm

A Lowville Opera House was mentioned in the March 18, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World. It was one of several theaters that had been leased or managed by George A. Hickey, recently named manager of the Triangle company’s Buffalo film exchange, so the house must have been showing movies at least part of the time prior to 1916

Plate 5, on page 15 of Maggie Valentine’s The Show Starts on the Sidewalk has a ca. 1900 photo of the Lowville Opera House.

An advertisement for architectural firm Leon H.Lempert & Son in the 1906-1907 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide lists the “Town Hall (Opera House), Lowville, N.Y.” as one of the firm’s projects.

An item from the Lowville Journal Republican in mid-1899 said that initial bids for construction of the Town Hall had come in over estimates, and that architect Lempert had subsequently altered the plans, scaling back some features, including reducing the size of the stage from 39x64 feet to 26x64 feet.

The theater appears to have been called both Town Hall and Lowville Opera House, or just Opera House, interchangeably for several decades, but the latter appeared in the local newspaper most frequently.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Forgot to put a link to the Google Books Preview of Maggie Valentine’s book.

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