Auburn Schine Theater
12-14 South Street,
12-14 South Street,Auburn, NY 13021
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I agree with a Ho! Ho! Ho! :)
Yeah, and I guess the fact that the sun is shining and there is no snow in sight makes it a nice photo for local residents of Auburn NY. One of my wishes for ‘09 is to see this theatre restored or on its way to restoration!
SchineHistorian: Thanks for posting this important and timely article! An important phone number and address is now available for anyone who wants to become active in the art council’s many projects so that this theatre can become the art council’s MAJOR PROJECT for however long it takes to bring this theatre back to the citizens of Auburn!
Apparently that link changes from day to day – here is the text of the Auburn Citizen article:
Debating the Schine’s projectBy Todd A. Gaglianese
Saturday, September 13, 2008 10:18 PM EDT
Just look at building to see council’s failure
File Photo / The Citizen
Arts council’s stewardship of theater debated Seventy years ago, Auburn closed its schools and shops to make way for â€œThe Pageant of Progress.â€ The pageant was a large celebration parade that ended up at the doors of Auburn’s newest marvel, The Auburn Schine’s Theater. About 3,000 people tried to cram their way into the brand new theater for the first afternoon show on Sept. 15, 1938. With a seating capacity of only 1,702, many first-time patrons were turned away until the evening show, which also sold out. The theater continued to be Auburn’s centerpiece until the late ‘70s.
Today the same theater that brought famous movie stars into our little town is silent. The very building that was the hope for Auburn’s future has little future of its own. Just 10 years ago the Auburn Schine’s was world famous. Today, the world is wondering what happened. The project took off with a tremendous fire and then suddenly smoldered out.
I can tell you â€œfirst handâ€ what truly happened. The problem began when an already shaky Cayuga County Arts Council took on a worthy project that was much too big to be handled alone. Ideals differed, original agreements were not honored and tempers flared. The sudden loss of our friend and leader Dick Mahlstedt was another serious blow dealt to the group. Dick was the glue that held us together. All these issues and more resulted in the disbanding of Friends of Auburn Schine’s Theater (who are credited with the project’s early success).
Since then a struggling arts council, which can barely keep its own head above water, has been doing little more than trying to keep up appearances. Interested organizations, volunteers, television and media crews have all been kept away from the theater. Funding sources have dried up and to date not one attempt has been made by the council (itself) at a significant fundraiser or capital campaign.
As the monumental 70th birthday of a national treasure comes and goes without notice, it seems that there is no one here in Auburn who knows or cares. Meanwhile, the oblivious Cayuga County Arts Council keeps plugging away at tea parties, pathetic art showings and prestigious piano concerts that were all handed to them by their predecessors. Very little has happened there on South Street in quite some time. The monies left to the theater project by its previous board have all been spent on new doors and poster cases. Ironically, those doors are locked and the building still sits there totally useless. Directors have come and gone and yet almost no new funding has been secured. However, the present arts council did manage to get one meager grant a few years back that was added to the door restoration fund. That particular grant was secured by copying a previously submitted application and â€œtweaking it just a little.â€ A once credible project has fallen on hard times due to apathy, secrecy, false pride and ignorance.
Sadly on its 70th birthday, the Schine’s Theater slips slowly backwards. The new mortar on the building’s crown is cracking and falling away again. The new poster cases proudly display their fresh black paint now peeling away. The marquee sits empty because there are no volunteers to put a Band-Aid on it and again have it bringing in money and drawing attention as it was before. Large black trash bags now cover the window on the new doors in order to conceal the decay and rubble of falling plaster inside. On the rear of the building, small trees are now growing out of the corners of a new $160,000 roof. Clearly neither the arts council nor the community should be proud of what has happened here.
If you were to ask the arts council, they would tell you everything is fine and that they are moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Realistically, one only needs to open their eyes to see the real truth.
But do not ask the group for specific details about the building that your tax dollars paid for. That information is kept in total secrecy and locked behind those lovely new doors that are destined to fade long before they ever open.
If they ever open.
Happy birthday, Auburn Shine’s Theater. Those who truly know and care for you are raising a toast to your future on the 15th.
Progress has been made; future is bright
By The Cayuga County Arts Council
The Cayuga County Arts Council is pleased to have the opportunity to talk about some of our recent developments and about our programs. We are excited to have recently moved into our new office in downtown Auburn at SS. Peter and John Church. This new location will enable us to be more available and accessible to the residents of Auburn and Cayuga County. Additionally, we are happy to welcome our new executive director, Michelle Graney. She already has proven to be a great asset.
Our organization serves a broad mission, which encompasses many projects both large and small. Each project serves the arts community while also serving the community at large. We are proud of them all. We are responsible for the New Year’s Celebration, which is becoming one of the premiere family events in our community. We continue to co-sponsor the Adams Foundation Piano series, which brings to Auburn world class music programming. We are partnering with the Community Preservation Organization’s Home Tour and presenting â€œArt in the Parkâ€ on Saturday, Oct. 4, where many local artists will be showcasing their work. We are members in good standing of the Historic and Cultural Sites Commission.
In addition to these and other projects, we also own the historic Auburn Schine’s Theater. As the property holder of the theater, we have developed a comprehensive plan for its restoration and renovation. We understand that this landmark is an important symbol of our collective identity. We know that all of these projects contribute to the economic and social fabric of our county.
The renovation of the theater is an enormous project, but equally enormous is the potential benefit to our community upon its successful completion. Since we purchased the theater we have faced our share of challenges, and have enjoyed many successes. We are proud to have raised more than $1 million via state and federal grants, foundation grants and private contributions. Some of that money was used to restore some of the facade of the theater, including the doors, the poster cases, and the exterior brickwork. Unfortunately, it was necessary to use the balance of the funding on less glamorous work, such as roof replacement, sump pump replacement and asbestos removal. The good news is that the completion of all of these projects has served to prevent further damage to the interior of the structure. We can now proceed with our plan to renovate the lobby and make it accessible to the public.
We have received some criticism for the slow nature of the process, and we share that frustration. A large capital improvement project such as this requires diligent, tireless effort, particularly during difficult economic times. We are optimistic, however, that our dedicated board of directors, which continues to grow in experience and expertise, along with our motivated new executive director, will be able to build on past successes and restore the Schine’s Theater to its original grandeur, for the benefit of the entire community. We have good reason to be optimistic, as we are proud to have received pledges of support from our federal, state and local elected officials. In addition, we have support from the New York State Council of the Arts, the major arts funding entity in the state. Most importantly, the citizens of our community recognize that we are lucky to have this architectural and historical treasure and that it is our duty to respect and preserve it. Together, with a spirit of cooperation, we can and will bring this important project to fruition.
The Cayuga County Arts Council Board of Directors is comprised of a hard-working group of volunteers. The success of our programming is dependent on the willingness of the public to donate their time and support. We welcome the contributions of our community members in all of its forms: volunteerism, financial donations, in-kind donations, constructive criticism and suggestions, and participation in our events.
For more information on ways in which you can become more active in the arts council’s many projects, contact us at 169 Genesee St., Auburn, or call 252-0950.
Thanks for posting this article and I, too, hope that some entity is up to the considerable challenge!!! If someone knows of anyone, please come forth! I thank you and so does SchineHistorian!
Monday is the 70th birthday of one of John Eberson’s late era Art Deco masterpieces, the Auburn Schine Theater. On September 15, 1938 the outer space atmospheric marvel was unveiled to the public. Lighting fixtures shaped like comets and shooting stars, wildly Art Deco stars and “Jetsons” looking decor – it was like nothing Eberson had done before, or after. A truly one-of-a-kind treasure.
In 1999, THS visited the Schine Auburn and met with Friends of the Auburn Schine Theater (FAST) who were wildly enthusiastic about their restoration plan and the public support for a re-energized theater for their town and proudly showed off the neglected, yet still proud theater to our Conclave group.
Sadly, almost 10 years later, FAST was forced to disband by the owners of the theater and the Schine sits mildewing and with little appreciable progress from that happy day in 1999. No one is allowed to see the theater. This editorial appeared in the local newspaper yesterday in anticipation of the anniversary. There must be SOME entity who is up to the considerable challenge.
Just picked up a postcard from 1945 in which the theater can be seen: View link
It reminds me of the Eberson designed Colony Theater, now know as Shaker Square Cinemas in Cleveland on Shaker Square, one of the first preplanned shopping centers in the country. It was built in 1937 and had a balcony and 1500 or so seats.
Has anything happened with this theater. It looks like the pictures on the web site haven’t been updated in a while.
“How many times does a city get the opportunity to restore and use an Eberson Art Deco Outerspace Atmospheric theater?! There aren’t going to be too many more bites at the apple for the Auburn Schine Theater.”
SchineHistoran: Thanks for posting this recent article! I sent my email to Mr. Rapp!
A recent news article from the Syracuse (NY) Post Standard. Under the watch of FAST (Friends of the Auburn Schine Theater) the roof was replaced and the building secured against water and weather deterioration. Community spirit was very high, many people volunteered time, talent and funds to clean up the building. It felt like things were finally going to happen. That was in 2000. How many times does a city get the opportunity to restore and use an Eberson Art Deco Outerspace Atmospheric theater?! There aren’t going to be too many more bites at the apple for the Auburn Schine Theater.
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York)
January 17, 2008 Thursday
AUBURN GRANT REQUEST DENIED; STATE REJECTS BID FOR RESTORE MONEY. PROJECT LEADERS PLAN TO MOVE FORWARD ANYWAY.
By Scott Rapp Staff writer
The state rejected Auburn’s application for nearly $1.8 million in grant money, scuttling two major downtown projects for now.
Funding for a private developer was also denied.
Officials said Wednesday they’re regrouping to decide what to do next.
The city applied for the Restore New York Communities Initiative grant money from the Empire State Development Corp. in September.
However, the city’s application didn’t match up against other municipal plans in the competitive process and the state didn’t have enough money to fund all the projects, said Stefanie Zakowicz, an Empire State Development Corp. spokeswoman.
“There was $286 million in funding requested and there was only $100 million available. So unfortunately, that means there’s a lot more people wanting a piece of the pie than we could feed,” she said.
Here’s what the city had planned to do with the grant money:
Give about $1.1 million to the Cayuga County Arts Council to continue restoring the historic Schine Theater on South Street.
Use $215,000 to demolish the vacant, city-owned Kalet’s Building on State Street, which stands between several buildings that the Stardust Foundation plans to redevelop into a “creative corridor.”
Dole out $434,000 to private developer Glenn Fletcher, who is renovating the former Disciples of Christ Church on North Division Street into a hall for business conferences, weddings and other social events.
City Manager Mark Palesh initially balked at adding Fletcher’s request to the application, telling councilors he thought doing so would weaken the city’s chances of getting the grant. He held to that position Wednesday but said he was unsure as to why the city’s application ultimately failed.
Auburn received $1.8 million from the same program the year before to help a local developer build upscale condominiums on Logan Street.
The overall goal of the state grant program is to revitalize urban centers, induce commercial reinvestment and improve municipal housing stock, Zakowicz said.
“So priority was given to projects that could best leverage other state or federal redevelopment money, projects with plans fully in place and projects (that will) start within a year of grant funding,” she added.
The county Arts Council had hoped to use the money to reopen the Schine lobby to the public and build a media arts interpretative center and retail store.
Susan Harris, the council’s executive director, said she’s disappointed at not getting the money but said her group will keep trying to raise the estimated $7.7 million needed to reopen the Art-Deco theater.
“We just have to keep plugging along. … We have a big job to get people on board with what we’re doing. That will be our focus,” Harris said.
Scott Rapp can be reached at or 315-253-7316.
Here is a December 1964 ad from the Auburn Citizen Advertiser:
Well, if this was a photo taken in May of 2007 and January 2007 was to “unveil of the facade” then they missed the mark on the marquee by not getting that important piece of history restored, imo.
I totally agree! We need to see recent photos and the next time I pass through Auburn I’ll take a personal look-see.
“The Cayuga County Arts Council will unveil the facade at The Auburn Schinesâ€™ Theatre on Friday January 12, 2007 at 4pm.” This being the first sentence when I clicked on “Cayuga County Arts Council” there should be more to tell concerning this theatre by now.
Lost Memory: I’m not sure what is taking place. All I know is that I drove through Auburn enroute to another nearby town and didn’t see any activity going on.
Lost Memory: I prefer to remember and view the August 11, 2007 b/w photo. Notice the banner that reads…“Bank Nite Every Thursday”.
The marquee is in terrible shape as is this Eberson art deco former Auburn gem which is such a shame.
Lost Memory: Thanks for this fabulous vintage photo!
Progress seem to be going very slowly. Perhaps some more innovative persons are needed on the committee to come up with ideas to get more financial aid and speed up the project.The longer it takes, the more it will cost.
This 2007 photo looks like things are improving at the Auburn. If anyone knows the latest, please post!
While driving thru Auburn in the 80’s; I stopped at a used bookstore and bought over a hundred autographed Vaudeville photos, all inscribed “To Lou” thanking him for his fine Conducting when they played Auburn… They appear to be from the mid forties to the early fifties. I’m assuming it was the Auburn Theater with a Vaudeville plus Picture policy around that time… If it was some other Theater in Auburn, I’d really like to know so I can correct my files. Thanks..
Any idea when it will open?
I was in Auburn last July and decided to drive by this theatre. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been restored which is such a shame as the architect was Eberson and perhaps time isn’t on its side now.