Center Theatre

580 Main Street,
Buffalo, NY 14202

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Loew's Inc., Martina Circuit, Shea Theatres

Architects: Michael J. DeAngelis, Leon H. Lempert, Jr.

Previous Names: Shea's Hippodrome Theatre, Backstage Theatre, Penthouse Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Shea's Hippodrome, Buffalo, New York in 1923

Opened August 31, 1914 with H.B. Warner in “The Lost Paradise”. It was equipped with a $25,000 orchestral organ. The 2,500-seat Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre was one of the movie palaces along Buffalo’s Main Street. It stood approximately one block south of the Paramount Theatre (previously Shea’s Great Lakes Theatre) and on the same side of the street. In September 1922 it was equipped with a 3 manual, 15 rank Wurlitzer organ.

In the 1940’s it was sold to Loew’s Inc. The building was renovated to the plans of architect Michael J. DeAngelis, when the original marquee had been removed and replaced with a more ‘modern’ style marquee with the name “Center” on it. It reopened as the Center Theatre on on August 31, 1949. The foyer was also given a ‘modern’ treatment to the plans of interior designer G. Brandt.

The theatre’s balcony was neglected and dark during the late-1950’s and 1960’s. As a result it was difficult to see any of the details of the theatre’s design.

During the 1960’s, the Center Theater was the house that ran almost all of the Warner Brothers / Seven Arts / Hammer films. In December 1968 it was converted into a triple-screen movie theatre with the Backstage Theatre opening on February 7, 1969 screening adult movies and the Penthouse Theatre opened on April 2, 1969 screening a roadshow presentation of “Oliver” starring Ron Moody. It was closed on December 29, 1973. It reopened on December 27, 1974 and finally closed in late-January 1975. It was demolished on March 27, 1983.

Contributed by E. Summer

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

psmith102006
psmith102006 on September 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm

When they made the theater into 3, you could buy a pass to wander from theater to theater. You didnt have to stay in just one show.

arl
arl on December 10, 2009 at 1:10 am

Some later Hippodrome history starting in 1938, when air conditioning was added. The last live
entertainment was in 1941 (Major Bowes), and during the war years admission went from 25 cents
to 40 cents. Also during this period, the “Hipp” and the Buffalo were sold by the Shea Estate to
Loews Chain and Vincent Mc Faul, for $2M. After this big movies that opened at the Buffalo, then
went to the Hippodrome. In 1949, as stated the name changed to Center and a redo took place. Also live entertainment returned for a period, including Nat Cole and Peggy Lee. In 1952, a closed
circuit opera was shown, and in 1952 “The Greatest Show on Earth” attracted 60, 000 patrons
in 3 weeks. A Marciano fight at $3 a head was also shown in this period. Buffalo’s first 3-D
movie “Bwana Devil” also shown here. The late 50s and 60s brought decline, and the division
into 3 theaters in 1967. Closed in 1975, demolished in 1983,

wonniebite
wonniebite on September 24, 2012 at 12:45 am

My great-grandparents were entertainers at this theatre and many more from what my great Uncle Johnny Bouchard put in writing for us. I see Sharon M., stated he was her grandfather and an orchestra leader. George Albert and Mary Elizabeth Bouchard performed all over the states according to the writing. They were friends with the police commissioner, mayor as well as many residents of Buffalo. Mom has pictures of them in performances and we will scan and add at a later date. They left a long legacy of children, grand and great and great-great grandchildren to remember them. Please if anyone is interested please write to us or call. Bonnie White at or 909-583-3017. We have been doing ancestry.com which has led me here. Thanks

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 29, 2017 at 2:01 pm

1960 photo added courtesy of Mark MacDougal.

rivest266
rivest266 on May 27, 2022 at 8:57 pm

Hippodrome grand opening ad posted.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 16, 2022 at 11:56 am

1949 grand opening ad posted.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 21, 2022 at 6:17 pm

The Backstage theatre at the Center opened on February 7th, 1969 by Martina theatres showing adult movies and the Penthouse opened on April 2nd with the roadshow presentation of “Oliver”. Grand opening ads posted.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 23, 2022 at 6:46 am

Closed or the newspaper listings pulled in 1973 by Martina theatres.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 23, 2022 at 8:31 am

Closed in late december, 1973

We find it impossible to continue business in the climate of a police stateā€

Center, Backstage and Penthouse theatres closedCenter, Backstage and Penthouse theatres closed 29 Dec 1973, Sat Buffalo Evening News (Buffalo, New York) Newspapers.com

rivest266
rivest266 on September 24, 2022 at 4:06 am

It reopened on December 27th, 1974, and closed again in late January 1975. another ad posted

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