Hollywood Theater

39 West Main Street,
Gowanda, NY 14070

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Showing 1 - 25 of 33 comments

Texas2step on July 5, 2018 at 4:17 pm

This one opened on April 19, 1926.

apalcic on September 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

The organist who now owns it is named Byron Jones.

apalcic on September 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Patsy, I realize this is years later, but that photo of the organist on the Wurlitzer was probably my grandfather. He and I found the photo online shortly before he passed away, and my laptop has since crashed. I am searching for a link to find that photo again. Do you have it? Thank you so much.

malibujim on January 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I was born in Gowanda in the 40’s, & and used to go to movies here every Friday nite, during the 50’s. I remember they used to show different movies Sun-Mon, Tues-Thur,and Fri-Sat, with double features on Fri-Sat. Think it was $.25 under 12 and .35 over 12. Candy was $.05 & .10, popcorn .10 and they had a soda machine that was .15,…I couldn’t afford that. It was a pretty nice theater and kept up good. Better than some others in small towns. There was a mgr that used to patrol during the movies, to keep us from talking or putting our feet on the seats in front of us. Didn’t know his name, but called him the “penguin.” Later, the police chief Fluker, assumed penguin’s duties.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 8, 2011 at 11:05 am

The Opera House in Gowanda, which stood on the site of the Hollywood Theatre until it burned down in 1924, is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. It had 800 seats and was on the ground floor. Its proscenium opening was 26.5 feet wide X 18 feet high, and the stage was almost 26 feet deep. J. VanDensen was the Mgr. There were 2 weekly newspapers and 3 hotels for show folk. Town served by the Erie RR. The 1897 population of Gowanda was 2,500. I don’t know if the Opera House ever showed movies – it certainly may have.

Patsy on October 25, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Opus: Interesting to read about the Wurlitzer organ that was once in the Hollywood. Though very disturbing to read that the organ was offered back to the theatre by the owner’s widow and they declined! Also interesting to note in my research that the seats have all been saved and are being restored by inmates.

opus1280 on October 25, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Should note.. the above sale and shipping of the Hollywood organ took place in 2002-2003.

opus1280 on October 25, 2008 at 1:14 pm

The Wurlitzer from the Hollywood was removed from the theatre in i think 1978 and installed in a private residence in Tonawanda NY. It was maintained and restored in pristine original condition. From what i understand after the death of its owner, it was offered to the Hollywood for a sum by his wife, but was declined (not sure why). It was purchased by w Welsh organist, and local organ folk including myself, dismantled and packed it into a shipping container and off it went across the Atlantic, probabaly never to be seen on our shores again. Sad, it would have been nice to have a home coming at the Hollywood, I think the organ is one of the very few original components to have left that building. It was a small organ, yes (style DX, 2/6), but it had a sound much bigger than one would think!

Patsy on August 17, 2008 at 8:08 am

Thanks for this recent update on the Hollywood. I’ve been to this theatre and seen the progress being made! I wonder if there is anyone out there who can tell us about the Wurlitzer organ that was once in the Hollywood? This theater has an interesting history!

SchineHistorian on August 17, 2008 at 5:47 am

Here is a link to a recent news story – looks like they are progressing at a slow and steady pace!

View link

Patsy on May 14, 2008 at 9:33 am

Lost Memory: Once again thank you for providing the website information as the photos and current information on the restoration of this fine theatre are remarkable! Anyone interested should take the time and view all of the photos which include seeing all of the seats and cushions that have put in storage. These items will be restored by a local correctional facility. I had wondered about this as my visit to the Hollywood did not include seeing any seats as it like walking into a very large and empty room. Many of the restoration photos are amazing and well worth viewing! My theatre hat is off to the fine folks in Gowanda NY.

Patsy on May 14, 2008 at 9:12 am

I just viewed the slideshow on the website and see that there was a photo of a Hollywood Theater organist in the year 1966 so the theatre was still in operation at that time. I grew up near Gowanda, but have no memory of the theatre being there. I have since been inside the auditorium and it was completely gutted after a leaky roof, etc. was repaired. I would like to know how and why this theater was left to deteriorate.

Patsy on March 22, 2008 at 7:41 am

I’m somewhat familiar with this theatre south of Buffalo. It has an interesting history.

roberttoplin on May 18, 2007 at 3:58 pm

My information tells me that the Hollywood, which opened April 19,1926, was designed by Leon H. Lempert,Jr. of Rochester,N.Y.

Patsy on April 13, 2006 at 5:44 am

Lost Memory: Thanks for the photo site. I have been to this theatre and in June the Hollywood Happening with the HD crowd really fills up the town to support this theatre!

Patsy on October 28, 2005 at 6:08 pm

Scam: You are welcome and keep us posted on whatever you find out concerning the Hollywood Theatre in Gowanda NY.

concerned on October 28, 2005 at 5:53 pm

Thank you for the information.

Patsy on October 28, 2005 at 5:43 pm

scam: I hope you will stay in the trusting mode as the Hollywood Theatre is under the watchful eye of Mr. Ganatt (sp) who is a local businessman in Collins NY. I don’t think you should be ‘smelling a rat in the wood pile.“ Keep the faith and if you question anything I suggest you go to the Chamber of Commerce and have them put you in touch with folks who are involved with the restoration.

concerned on October 28, 2005 at 5:16 pm

I have lived in Gowanda for about 8 years now and have contributed to the Hollywood restoration project.Every year they take in a great amount of money.The only thing that I have seen so far is the Marquis painted and some lights put in.Maybe they can post a project report in the pennysaver once a month and let us know what is being done and where the money is going.They tell me that they had the roof repaired.We must take their word because we can’t get a ladder and get up there.I must stop contributing until I see some progress.Those that are involved with the progect should take a ride to Angola,NY and take a look at their theater.It is about the same age as the Hollywood.They restored it in a very short time and it is beautiful.I hate to say this but I am starting to smell a rat in the wood pile.

Patsy on June 4, 2005 at 4:30 pm

Well, I visited Gowanda’s Hollywood Theatre today. The theatre is under renovation so will someday be beautiful once again and the town was full of beautiful Harleys. The theatre was the dream of a Mr. Wilhelm and his original home is on the corner of Main and Chapel.

Patsy on May 16, 2005 at 8:07 pm

I plan to attend the Hollywood Happening the first weekend in June so will report back on what I see and hear!

Patsy on March 13, 2005 at 9:16 am

I’m familiar with the Gernatt name of Collins NY so this is the right man for the right project!

Patsy on March 13, 2005 at 9:11 am

kurtcd: This is a wonderful event to raise money and stir up interest in a once beautiful theatre. I plan to call the phone number you have so kindly provided CT members. See you there!

kurtcd on March 12, 2005 at 9:09 pm

7th annual
Harley Happening at the Hollywood
June 3 – 5, 2005 Gowanda, NY
Sponsored by Gowanda Harley-Davidson, Inc.

The Harley Happening is held annually to benefit the restoration of
Gowanda’s historical Hollywood Theater. The weekend rally features live
bands, a parade, motorcycle activities, games, and fun for the entire family

Starts on Friday at 4:00pm on Main Street in front of the Hollywood Theatre.
This event will include a ride in bike show on Sunday at noon. There will
also be tattoo contest, fashion show, Team Extreme stunt show, vendors
music, food, beer and more. A 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 will be
raffled off, courtesy of Gowanda Harley-Davidson. For more information call
(716) 532-6103.

Originally modeled after Buffalo NY’s Sheas Theater, Gowanda’s historic
Hollywood Theater is currently in the middle of a painstaking effort to
restore it as a regional center for the performing arts. Held each June, the
Harley Happening at the Hollywood is the principal fund-raiser towards the
rehabilitation efforts. A motorcycle rally that draws bikers from several
states and Canada, Harley Happening features continuous live music, good
food and motorcycle-oriented events throughout the weekend.

Gowanda’s Historic Hollywood Theater is a 990-seat landmark theater
currently undergoing a multiyear $3 million historically correct total

The Hollywood Theater will be utilized as a regional center for the visual
and performing arts serving a 40 mile radius of Gowanda including points
north of Gowanda to the Buffalo south-towns, all of southern Erie county,
points west to Fredonia/Dunkirk, points south to
Ellicotville/Salamanca/Olean and points east to Springville and Arcade.

Listed on both the New York State and National Historic Registry, the
Hollywood Theater is a highly ornate structure featuring 700 orchestra level
seats and 290 balcony seats.

The Hollywood Theater is one of only a small group of remaining historic
jewels in Western New York featuring Vermont marble floors, ornate plaster
designs, leaded glass windows, brass railings, 14-piece orchestra pit, 70'
by 30' foot stage, dual original oil murals, concave seating design and a
highly decorated softly lit ceiling dome in the center of main house.

The Hollywood Theater was built upon the original site of the Gowanda Opera
House which was lost in a fire in 1924. Designed as both a vaudeville
theater and movie house, the Hollywood Theater was built by Gowanda
businessman Richard Wilhelm in 1926.

The Architect of record is William Lampert II of Rochester, New York. This
is the same architect who designed the Rivera Theater in North Tonawanda,
New York

After years of neglect, the theater was rescued by Gowanda area businessman
Dan Gernatt, Jr. and the Gernatt Family of Companies of Collins, NY who
purchased the theater in 1999 and donated it as a gift to the Gowanda

The Hollywood Theater was turned over to the Gowanda Area Redevelopment
Corp., GARC, a 501c(3) non profit organization. GARC together with the
Friends of the Hollywood Theater (a group of community volunteers) are
leading a total restoration effort of the building.

Patsy on December 6, 2004 at 4:40 pm

The event each June to help raise monies for the Hollywood is called Happening at the Hollywood and the website is www.hollywoodtheater.org