Grand Theatre

144 North Main Street,
Wellsville, NY 14895

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Babcock (Grand)...Wellsville New York

The Babcock Theatre was opened as a 450-seat movie theatre in April 1919. It is located on Main Street in Wellsville, which is the home town of actor Gabby Hayes, who performed on the stage of the towns playhouse theatre, the Baldwin Theatre, which burned in 1914.

The Babcock Theatre was equipped with RCA sound in the early-1930’s. Somewhere around 1933 Jack Warner of Warner Brothers bought the Babcock Theatre and began renovations to make it a “new style cinema”. 25 feet from the street front through the lobby and into part of the theatre was torn off and reconstructed. Then there was room for a lobby with a conccession stand, a street front box office and a new style smoking balcony that all supported the new V-shaped marquee. The new projection booth was installed in the balcony that shined down onto the sceen below. The Warner Brothers brass coat of arms was placed above which is still there today.

The theatre ran with great success through the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s until it fell victim to TV and videos. The owners at the time allowed it to fall into bad shape and by 1979 they where ready to close the doors for good.

Then a native of Wellsville who had recently returned from California bought the theatre and took the challange of carrying it through the rough time. In 1982 he enclosed the balcony and made it a piggy back twin. The original booth in the balcony now services the upstairs sceen and a new projection booth was built on the back side of the lobby to service the downstairs original sceen. Also electronic lamp houses and platter systems where added.

I came to work here in 1993 a fell in love with the place. I ran the theatre until 1997 when it was leased out and I lost my job. In 1999 I bought a building in Pennsylvania and converted it into a theatre and operated it until 2004 at which time I had sold it. I returned to Wellsville with my fiance and we bought the theatre on May 21st of 2004. We changed the name to the Grand Theatre and opened with “Shrek 2”. Our first show was a sell out. The theatre sure needs some updating and fixing up, but is workable and has a good costomer base.

Contributed by Darren Jones/ Shannon

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Patsy on February 9, 2005 at 1:03 pm

I plan to visit this theatre this summer as it has 2 similar theatre distinctions to my former hometown theatre in Westfield NY….art deco and the name….Grand! The 330 seats are less than were in mine. So many of these small town theatres are in need of being saved because in many cases the residents of these towns have many miles to travel to see a movie and most older folks would enjoy having one in their ‘own backyard’! In the case of my husband’s hometown that theatre is still there, but is being used for a youth center (hope still flames for that theatre to return) and in my case the small town Grand Theatre was foolishly demolished! :–(

Patsy on February 9, 2005 at 1:05 pm

If anyone could provide theatre photos, I would appreciate.

Patsy on March 5, 2005 at 7:42 pm

Shannon: I see that you are online so hope you say hello and reply to my recent posts on this link as I enjoyed receiving your personal email.

Patsy on March 5, 2005 at 8:24 pm

Interesting to note that actor, Gabby Hayes was from Wellsville NY In nearby Bradford PA the actor who played Boss Hogg on Dukes of Hazzard and the famous television ‘drunk’, Foster Brooks were both from that PA oil town.

Patsy on May 4, 2005 at 8:58 pm

Darren: Thank you for taking the time to give us a tour of your “grand” theatre! Next time we’ll check out the Warner Brothers brass coat of arms!

Patsy on August 9, 2007 at 10:17 pm

ken mc: What a great vintage photo that shows the theatre when it was called the Babcock and wasn’t twinned until later.

Patsy on September 7, 2007 at 11:16 am

Nice to read something about this theatre in Wellsville though I was hoping to read some words from the manager, Darren. I don’t even know if he is still the manager of a theatre that has sadly been twinned, imo.

Della on July 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I remember working the concession stand at this theater during my summer vacations from high school and college during 1981-1984. At that time it was known as the Lin-Ray Twin, a play off the names of the then-owners Linda and Raymond Hunt. And yes, Lost Memory, before that it was known as the Babcock. Those were good times — I miss working there! Thanks for the memories, guys :)

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