Riviera Theatre

67 Webster Street,
North Tonawanda, NY 14120

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Riviera Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Dipson Circuit, Shea Theatres

Architects: Leon H. Lempert, Jr.

Functions: Community Arts Center, Movies (Silent)

Styles: Italian Renaissance

Previous Names: Rivera Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 716.692.2413
Manager: 716.692.2413

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News About This Theater

Riviera Theatre

The Rivera Theatre opened on December 30, 1926 with an MGM feature titled “Upstage”, starring Norma Shearer and Oscar Shaw.

The theatre was designed by Leon Lempart & Son of Rochester New York for the Yellen family. The most famous Yellen being lyricist Jack, whom with partner and pianist Milton Ager penned the classics “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Aint She Sweet”.

The Yellen family leased the Rivera Theatre to Shea’s Operating Corp. in 1928. It was as this time the extra “i” was added to the name, changing it to Riviera Theatre. The Shea’s company also did some redcorating of the theatre at this time. The most notible change being the painting of the now famous “Naked Ladies” on the console of theatres 3/11 Wurlitzer organ, which had left the Wurlitzer factory with an ivory painted console.

The following decades would see many changes in operators. Shea’s operated the theatre into the 1940’s, when the Dipson-Basil company (later Dipson) took the reigns and continued its operation into the early-1970’s.

The theatre was closed for the year 1971 while it waited for a new operator to take an interest in it. A group of local entrepreneurs, whom had been running the sucessful Parklane Resturant in Buffalo, stepped up and would run the theatre into the early-1980’s.

The theatre was sold in the early-1980’s to theatre organist Dr. Edward “Eddy Baker” Bebko whom operated under several business names. Key Theaters and Saled Properties.

On February 14, 1989 the theatre became the property of the Niagara Frontier Theatre Organ Society; a group which had been maintaining the Wurlitzer theatre organ since the early-1960’s.

Following the theatre’s purchase, the organ society, manned entirely by volunteers began the enormous task of restoring the theatre to its opening night granduer.

The seats have been reupholstered, the auditorium, lobby, and all public areas repainted, dressing rooms restored, new AC and electrical service, sound and lights, new carpeting. And the work continues, all performed by an amazingly dedicated group of volunteers, all with a undying love for this historic showplace.

The theatre is currently operated by the society as a rental house. The only programs produced by them are the monthly organ concerts, which have been going strong for almost 40 years.

The theatre’s resident theatre company, NFLT (Niagara Falls little Theatre) provides regular offerings of plays and musicals.

Other events include various local theatre company productions, live concerts, dance recitals, children’s films, weddings and tours complete with organ demonstration and short silent film.

Contributed by Cory Wright

Recent comments (view all 87 comments)

LouB on January 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm


This link deals with a grant the theater has received

LouB on July 13, 2013 at 4:14 am


The link above deals with expansion at the theatre.

LouB on October 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm


This article deals with renovations being made at the theatre.

hammerglenn on December 16, 2013 at 2:39 am

Saw many Hammer horror and beach party movies here in the ‘60’s.

SexySadie on March 30, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I think this is where we saw THE MUPPET MOVIE in 1979

LouB on April 24, 2014 at 4:06 am


This link deals with renovations made to the marquee.

LouB on January 26, 2015 at 4:53 am


The article above deals with the Riviera' conversion to digital projection.

LouB on February 1, 2017 at 9:35 pm

Check out their upcoming classic films. Included are Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Singing in the Rain, and a Three Stooges Festival.

DavidZornig on May 12, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Wurlitzer organ photo added credit Greg Hawkes.

Texas2step on July 13, 2018 at 12:18 am

The Riviera Theatre opened on June 14, 1930. The feature film was “The Texan” with Gary Cooper.

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