Century Theatre

511 Main Street,
Buffalo, NY 14202

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Showing 22 comments

markhn on January 19, 2017 at 12:07 pm

According to this article, “King Of Jazz” made its Buffalo premiere on July 24, 1930.


Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 6, 2014 at 10:38 am

Michael Shea would take over operation of the Century Theatre in Buffalo on December 22, according to the December 14, 1928, issue of the Corning Evening Leader.

hammerglenn on December 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Saw 2001 first run here in 1968. My cousin, who was a science fiction fan had a hard time explaining it.

Willbone87 on August 23, 2013 at 8:52 am

In the late 1970s, I remember attending a concert there. The Tubes performed but I can’t remember the opening act. Very theatrical including the lead singer exposing himself, which was a bit disturbing to a 16 year old.
Also saw a double feature Woodstock/Song Remains the Same. I think the movie started at 8 and got done around 3 am.
For both events, the pot smoke was so thick that it stayed on your clothes for days. It always struck me as nonsensical that Buffalo was spending all sorts of money to build a subway for a “Theater District” but it ended up tearing down one of the few theaters there.
But hey, that’s Buffalo! Now 35 years later, they want to bury the subway because dumb idea did not work.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Looks like the Loew’s State opened with a Moller pipe organ, opus 2888, a III/17 in 1921. In 1925, they traded that one back to Moller for opus 4318, a III/32. Opus 2888 wound up in Memphis Tennessee at the Linden Circle Theatre.

alknobloch on January 31, 2010 at 12:06 am

Yo Torontonian – when you made the long trek down the QEW in 1953, the only theater in Buffalo running Cinerama was Shea’s Teck – the Century installed the single projector version of the process after the Teck quit. Never heard of the Marigold Restaurant, but having a dining facility in an old house was somewhat popular at the time in the city, especially for bar and pizza fare.

Torontonian on January 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I remember seeing This is Cinerama in 1952 or ‘53. It was
an impressive cinema and the film bowled over this 9-year-old
schoolboy. We saw the film on a Saturday matinee and
afterwards, we drove to a residential area where a house
had been converted to a dining room. It was called the
Marigold Restaurant. I thought it odd that a dining room
would be located in a house and on a residential side

It was an enjoyable day despite the long drive from Toronto
and the maximum highway speed of 50 mph.

Padawg on November 9, 2009 at 4:56 am

As I recall, the Burger King was already on he corner when the demo took place and was damaged when the building collapsed during the process. I also recall that the organ pipes were still in place when it came down. I have a great photo somewhere of the front of the building where someone’s graffiti says “Save Me.”

alknobloch on July 4, 2009 at 11:23 am

Right JIMY8, I also remember seeing a lot of these roadshow presentations here. However, I think my fondest memory is of repeatedly viewing (like for all day practically) the amazing stop-motion animation work of Ray Harryhausen in “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” at the Century. I still have the original soundtrack recording of this film, as well as the one from “The Ten Commandments”. The snack bar truly made their money on me that day!

JIMY8 on July 1, 2009 at 10:48 pm

The Century was the second house in Buffalo to install CinemaScope in the early 1950s. The first film there in the new process was HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE. When the roadshow films started to be released the Century had the best of them: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, OKLAHOMA, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, WAR AND PEACE, THE SLEEPING BEAUTY, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, etc.

alknobloch on May 18, 2009 at 10:47 am

There used to be a tremendous hotdog-type diner next to the side entrance of this house where they were famous for their toasted buns (you should excuse the expression). As a kid, I think I ate so many hotdogs there that it gave me the artery blocks I have today!

In later years, there was a Mike’s Submarine Shop close-by, and many patrons would first stop there and buy a sub to take into the theater and eat as the show went on. These subs all had a distinctive smell which sometimes made it seem like you were sitting in the middle of a crowd of unwashed people as you watched the film.

railroad on April 8, 2008 at 9:43 pm

Phone number 1960: CLeveland 0900

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on September 16, 2007 at 7:22 am

After the Teck showed it’s last CINERAMA movie “How the West Was Won” in the spring of 1963, Buffalo had no CINERAMA theatre untill United Artists' Century CINERAMA Theatre, Carl E. Schaner, was the managing director, showed MGM’s “Gran Prix” on 03/23/67. A new semicircular CINERAMA 74ft by 33ft 26ft radius screen was installed in front of the present screen. The projection booth was brought down to the main floor and new single-lens CINERAMA process 70mm single-projectors were installed. With the new projectors they were “able to present motion pictures in any possible projection process”. All the seats were reupholsted and new drapes and carpeting were installed.
CINERAMA Releasing Corp.’s “Custer of the West” filmed in Super-Technirama and Technicolor in the CINERAMA widescreen process was to open in February of 1968, but I don’t know if that ever happened. A number of widescreen films had been booked and there was a possibility that some of the older CINERAMA hits would be brought back for presentation in the single-projector process, but I don’t know if that ever happened either.
The wall hollowed out of the building behind the stage reminds me of a lot of old theatres that have been “restored” recently and need to have a deeper stage, such as the Oriental in Chicago.
Anyone know if the pipes of the Moeller Theatre Pipe Organ were saved?

“Ladies and Gentlemen, This is CINERAMA!” Lowell Thomas

Patsy on February 12, 2006 at 12:01 pm

A Lamb theatre turned into a parking lot! There are no words to describe my reaction to reading this and then seeing the parking lot photo!

JohnBasil on December 9, 2005 at 7:29 am

When built this the Century Theater was a Motion Picture Theater the seating was 2632 when purchased by Dipson/Basil in 1939. I personally managed the most attendance in its history with the opening of Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins” in 1965. The Century had 2632 seats from the 1940’s up to 1965. It was Block Booked by the illegal Paramount Pictures theater chain and their illegal Shea operation in Buffalo. The United States Supreme Court decred and the Federal Court ordered McFaul and Shea to vacate, not sell, their theaters in 1948. Within a year my book on the most factual and True History of Theaters will be released. A Nationwide tragedy of the why’s and how’s of the 20th Century. Also did you know that the mythical Michael Shea never owned or built a “Shea’s” theater? My name is John B Basil, for questions I can be reached at 716-834-0348.

teecee on June 8, 2005 at 5:35 am

Concerning the timeline of this theater as a concert venue, Hot Tuna performed here on 4/23/75.

Patsy on May 10, 2005 at 9:36 am

JW and Michael C: I dont know if you are in the Buffalo area, but today on WBEN radio, the a.m. talk show host asked his listening audience to call in and and tell what they remember about things in Buffalo that are gone such as restaurants, businesses, parks and THEATRES! I sent the host an email to tell him about CT as there are over 20 Buffalo theatres listed. One person called in and mentioned the Century, but there were many more in and around the town! I have plans to tour the western NY/PA/OH areas this summer to find old theatres or former locations as it’s interesting to see what is at certain locations now (though it can be very frustrating and very sad)if a particular theatre is gone as is the case with the Century.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 5, 2005 at 9:56 am

Opened on 17th October 1921 as Loew’s State Theater, the opening was attended by Marcus Loew. There were two entrances, the Main Street entrance brought one in at the main floor and loge level, the other entrance was on Mowhawk Street. The configeration of the stage was unusual as an adjacent building (dating from at least 1895) had its wall hollowed out and the stage house was fitted into the space.

Loew’s dropped the house in 1928 and by 1930 it was under the control of Shea’s who moved their RKO vaudville shows into the what had now become the Century Theatre. In late 1939 Shea’s moved on and it it is listed as the Twentieth Century Theatre, or 20th Century with 2,911 seats in Film Daily Yearbooks under different managements.

In 1953 United Artists Theatres took out a 10 year lease and converted the theatre into a Cinerama theatre which resulted in a massive loss of the seating capacity to 1,200. It was also at this time that the 4Manual/33Rank De-Luxe Moeller theatre organ was junked. The pipes remained in the building.

The Century Theatre closed as a movie theatre in 1970 to become a rock concert venue. Later demolished.

MichaelC on January 24, 2005 at 12:10 pm

Forgot to mention…the ticket prices for all of those concerts was like $6 – $6.50 each…

MichaelC on January 24, 2005 at 12:07 pm

I went to many concerts there in the mid-70s. The Harvey of Harvey & Corky, who owned the theater then, is Harvey Weinstein, of Miramax fame. Here’s what I remember seeing there:
Jerry Garcia Band
Fleetwood Mac (with Stevie Nicks, just before they became huge)
Lynryd Skynryd/Charlie Daniels Band
Genesis (with Peter Gabriel)
Electric Light Orchestra
The Tubes
The place was quite a dump as I recall, and yes, the balcony did rock, literally. I never heard of it being used as two sepearate theaters.
They used to show films there like Cocaine Fiends, Reefer Madness, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Woodstock, Journey Through The Past (Neil Young), Yellow Submarine, Wood Allen films, etc. This is what teenagers did before VCRs and cable TV…good times.

richardg on July 6, 2004 at 5:25 pm

I was hoping someone would submit this theatre. I saw the inside of it once after it had closed. The last event to take place at the theatre was a Linda Ronstadt concert or if not the last event it was at least the last time the marquee was changed. I’m guessing this was the late seventies or very early eighties. When Linda’s name was still on the marquee, I managed to get a side exit door open and looked around. Seating capacity, memory tells me, was well over 2000. The theatre had not been cleaned after the Ronstadt concert and the floor was a sea of popcorn boxes and drink cups. While poking around I tried to imagine Linda belting out “Carmelita”. I wish I’d been there.
I hope someone will contribute some more details about the theatre. I, of course, can’t find any of my notes. I do remember, however, that someone told me the theatre was made up of two smaller theatres. Years later, however, someone told me this was not true. Anyone know the real story?