Cattaraugus County Center For the Performing Arts
10 Main Street,
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Previously operated by: Schine Circuit Inc.
Functions: Performing Arts
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Seneca Theatre, Ray Evans Seneca Theatre
Located in Salamanca, N.Y. the theatre was originally called the Seneca Theatre and built by the Schine Chain to replace an aging venue a couple of blocks up the street. Construction was started in 1941 just before the outbreak of WWII. It was opened August 27, 1942, but due to shotage of materials, final construction work was not completed until 1945 after the war ended.
The theatre was called the Seneca Theatre after the Indian nation which owns the underlying ground. The entire city of Salamanca is located on the Seneca Indian reservation (I believe it is the only city in the US so located on an Indian reservation). The land is ground-leased from the Senecas and everyone in the town pays an annual Indian rent.
The theatre lobby featured many sculptures in crevices on the walls. It was operated by the Schine Chain until the mid-1960’s. The theatre continued to show movies until June of 1972 when the auditorium ended up under eight feet of water in the flooding which accompanied Hurricane Agnes.
The Seneca Theatre sat abandoned until the early-1980’s when Cattaragus County acquired the building. Over the next several years the theatre was slowly renovated and transformed into the Cattaragus County Center For The Performing Arts. It is now primarily used for local live theatre and travelling acts.
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