144 N. Main Street,
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Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
Functions: Movies (First Run)
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Babcock Theatre
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 concession 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 screen 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 challenge 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 screen and a new projection booth was built on the back side of the lobby to service the downstairs original screen. 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 fiancé 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 customer base.
Following closure in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it reopened from June 11, 2021 and operates with one screen.
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