Stanley Center for the Arts

259 Genesee Street,
Utica, NY 13501

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Related Websites

Stanley Center for the Arts (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Mastbaum Theatres, Stanley-Warner Theatres, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: Thomas White Lamb

Functions: Performing Arts

Styles: Spanish Baroque

Previous Names: Stanley Theatre, Stanley Performing Arts Center

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 315.724.4000

Nearby Theaters

Stanley Theatre, Utic NY, post card view, circa 1929

Built for the Mastbaum chain and opened on September 10, 1928, the Stanley Theatre is named for one of the Mastbaum brothers. It was designed by the famed theater architect Thomas Lamb and was called by a contemporary Mexican Baroque style. However, it is in reality a mish-mash of various theater styles popular in the 1920’s, including Spanish Baroque, Indian, Middle Eastern and even a touch of Art Deco style. The opening program featured the silent movie “Ramona” starring Dolores del Rio.

The decor is incredibly lavish, including gilded cherubs peeking out from around the organ grills, marble Renaissance lions in the lobby, the Baroque-Moorish twisted gold columns on either side of the stage and twinkling stars in the pink-hued sky high above the auditorium seats. One of the highlights of the Stanley Theatre is a grand staircase in the main lobby which was based upon one that was on the ocean liners the Titanic and its twin, the Olympic.

The Stanley Theatre was originally owned by the Stanley-Mark Strand Corporation chain, and was affiliated to the Warner Bros. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. It remained Utica’s grandest and most popular movie house from its opening until the 1950’s, and by the late-1960’s, it was on its last legs. It closed in the early-1970’s.

Then in 1974, the Central New York Community Arts Council purchased the Stanley Theatre. It has since spent over $4.5 million in restoring the grand house to its 1920’s appearance, including seats, carpeting and paint schemes that duplicate the originals, as well as brand new electrical, mechanical, and safety equipment. Restoration is ongoing at the Stanley Theatre.

The Stanley Theatre became known as the Stanley Performing Arts Center, but reverted to its original name in 2005. The theater is home to a handful of organizations, including the Broadway Theatre League (which brings in touring Broadway shows), the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Great Artists Series which features operatic performances, and the Mohawk Valley Ballet. It is now known as the Stanley Center for the Arts.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

Patsy on August 14, 2007 at 4:43 pm

ziggy: Your recent post brought a smile to my face! Thanks. I live in western NYS and to anyone from the Big Apple they consider this area as Upstate, too. I have never been to the Stanley, but hope to someday as I know it would be well worth the trip. As you probably know, the grand staircase in the lobby is designed like the Titanic grand staircase. And if you friend is from TN he should be very familiar with the Kennessee Theatre in Knoxville. Go to that link and CT member, Lost Memory recently posted a wonderful exterior photo showing the front doors and the marquee.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on September 29, 2008 at 7:37 am

A 1986 view of the Stanley Theatre in Utica here and here.

JohnFaust on September 29, 2008 at 9:12 am

It’s now September 29, 2008 and we just celebrated the Stanley’s 80th Anniversary.

The Stanley just underwent a $20.5M expansion … including restoration of the facade and marquee, all new stage house and support wing, and additional public space with elevator.

View the Stanley website for construction photos and calendars for coming events:

Patsy on September 29, 2008 at 9:38 am

What a very nice website!

Ziggy on September 30, 2008 at 1:33 pm

I’ve visited this theatre, and the people in charge seem to be doing a great job. I just wish that the marquee had been left red instead of being repainted black. It has a very deadening effect on what is otherwise a lively facade, and doesn’t look original. However, if that’s the biggest flaw with the restoration I’ll be the first one to stand up and cheer.

JohnFaust on September 30, 2008 at 1:40 pm


As part of the restoration of the facade and marquee, the original green paint color of the marquee was restored (similar to the color in the postcard at the top of this page).

In doing the work on the marquee— on the front, the WB circle was also found and put back on the front of the marquee .. the Stanley was a Warner Bros. theatre from about 9/14/08 ‘til it became a Stanley Warner Theatre later on.

JohnFaust on September 30, 2008 at 1:58 pm


Wait ‘til you see the chandelier inside, and the beautiful new stagehouse and loading dock.

Mr G Waterman, from the posts above, come and take a look!
The loading dock is a thing of beauty.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on September 30, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Warner Brothers theatre division, from 1930 to the late 1940’s-early 1950’s, was Stanley Warner (after buying Philadelphia, PA based Stanley Company of America, started by Stanley Mastbaum and Jules E. Mastbaum). It was through the Paramount Decree that Warner Brothers split into two companies: Warner Brothers Inc. and Stanley Warner Corp.

It was in the 1960’s when Pacific Theatres acquired Stanley Warner Corp, and later RKO Theatres to form the RKO Stanley Warner Theatres division (the other two were Pacific Theatres and Pacific East Theatres). Stanley Warner/RKO Stanley Warner was the biggest theatre chain in Philadelphia, PA, before being surpassed by Budco Theatres Corp. and Sameric Theatres Corp.

There is also a high school in Philadelphia, Pa named after The Stanley Company’s co-founder Jules E. Mastbaum, called Mastbaum Technical High School (built near the site of the former Stanley Warner’s Allegheny Theatre)

In 1981, Pacific Theatres sold RKO Stanley Warner to Almi-Century Theatres, forming RKO Century Warner Theatres.

vincentvendetta on September 5, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I have the original opening article and ad for this theatre and it states that there were 3500 seats, unless they padded the facts.
Who knows for sure?

ERD on January 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

What a beautiful theatre!

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