Sylvia Theater

27 N. Congress Street,
York, SC 29745

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

| Street View

Contributed by Stephanie Finnican

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 17, 2007 at 2:34 pm

This is a 12/05/2001 article about the Sylvia Theater.

“York, S.C., Movie Theater to Get New Home as Venue for Live Music.

The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C.
By Sula Pettibon

Dec. 5—YORK, S.C.—There’s no telling what will turn up when you’re gutting an old movie theater in a 97-year-old building.

Things like a popcorn cup with World War II ships on it, a poster for “Sex and the Single Girl,” and even a wallet with pictures still in it.

For Paul Finnican of Charlotte, who recently purchased the Sylvia Theater on North Congress Street, every day brings something new. He plans to turn the 4,000-square-foot building with a 30-foot ceiling into a live music venue for concerts, talent shows, community plays, poetry readings and seminars.

“People love to see shows and stuff that’s live,” said Finnican, 42, who will call on friends from the Nashville Songwriters Association to fill the marquis. “We want to make it fun for as many people as we can.”

Music is his passion, but Finnican, a singer/songwriter, works during the day as an SBA loan originator for Comerica Bank.

He looked at old movie theaters in Shelby and Monroe, N.C., but it was the Sylvia, with its art deco facade in the heart of downtown, that caught his eye.

“This was the one I really wanted,” said Finnican, who has recorded two CDs from a studio above his garage and plans recording capabilities at the theater.

Former hotel Built in 1904 as the Shandon Hotel, the building was purchased in the 1930s by a York contractor, who removed the second floor and created a balcony and projection room. He named the theater after his daughter, according to Jeanne Ferguson, wife of Tracy Ferguson, who is a friend of Finnican’s.

The theater closed in the late 1960s and at one time was a teacher supply shop, Ferguson said. Like most of the city, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Finnican is gutting the inside himself and getting bids from contractors for the rest. Work should be done by spring, with acts opening in the summer.

Renovation plans Buying and renovating the building is expected to cost between $200,000 and $250,000, he said.

He plans to expose original brick walls and may restore the plaster ceiling.

A friend is looking for about 150 seats — 100 on the ground floor and 50 in the balcony.

“I want to get more contemporary seats,” Finnican said, adding that at 6-foot-3, he doesn’t fit in a vintage chair. The stepped balcony floor will be refinished, the projector room painted and the hardwood stage enlarged. “If we do a big stage, it opens it up for more people,” he said, adding acoustics are good.

Community thespians already have stopped by and some will serve on a Sylvia Theater committee. A Web site,, has been set up for artists.

Luring folks to York Targeting the Rock Hill-York-Gastonia area, Finnican said he wants to be a reason people to come to York.

He found the town himself while searching for new customers for his job and fell in love with the small town reminiscent of his boyhood home in Cutchogue on Long Island in New York.

A cousin brought him to Charlotte, where he lives with his wife, Stephanie; and their two sons, Alex, 12; and Max, 7.

He found the guitar at age 18 but didn’t take lessons until 1998. His teacher convinced him to write his own lyrics because it “was taking too long to learn someone else’s,” he said, calling his style “Americana.”

His own studio time may be limited while he works on the building. “It’s going to be a great small venue,” he said. “I’m hoping in four or five years to get it known as the place to play”.

Patsy on March 9, 2007 at 5:14 pm

I just came upon an article in a magazine called Lake Wylie Living and a featured article called The Spirit of Sylvia. The actual structure is over 100 years old and has been home to everything from a hardware store to a teacher’s supply warehouse but current Sylvia Theater owner Paul Finnican has taken careful steps to preserve its rich history while keeping pace with the city’s ascent toward something unmistakably modern. Finnican is a New York transplant and is a resident of Charlotte. He purchased the Sylvia Theater in 2001 after randomly stumbling across it during a business meeting in York SC. So began a 10 month renovation punctuated by weekend trips with his wife and two young sons.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 21, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Here is a recent photo of the Sylvia Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on December 31, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Here is a close-up view of the marquee.

CSWalczak on February 5, 2011 at 5:07 am

The Sylvia is getting new seats (which can be sponsored by donors), and a new sound system: View link

smcurry on January 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the Sylvia’s re opening!

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater