Shea's - Table of Contents................. Shea's Buffalo Center - Official Home Page

2004, 2014 Photos - Main Street Facade
Shea's Buffalo Performing Arts Center

646 Main Street, Buffalo, New York

Postcard ... 1950s? ... Buffalo blade (sign) from 1942 was the second blade ...
The 2004 third blade - see below - was a replica of the original 1926 blade.

Shea’s Restoration is Behind Revival of Culture Downtown
  By Mark Sommer
Pub. in The Buffalo News on January 26, 2014

A 1926 movie palace that was nearly demolished in the early 1970s and struggled in the last decade has blossomed into downtown’s unrivaled success story in the arts.

The 3,019-seat Shea’s Performing Arts Center today is one of the top-grossing one-week, subscriber-based engagements for traveling Broadway shows in the country, with a season-ticket holder base that’s the envy of the industry.

At the same time, the city-owned theater’s top priority – to restore the Rapp & Rapp theater’s neo-classic Spanish Baroque interior, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany – is approaching the finish line. The exterior restoration was completed 10 years ago.

“Shea’s is a phenomenal asset for the City of Buffalo. It is clearly and without question one of Buffalo’s crown jewels, and it’s the centerpiece of our city’s Theater District,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said, noting the city had invested more than $750,000 in the building during his tenure.

That extraordinary success – noted in a December 2011 New York Times article, “Broadway Hits Gold in Buffalo” – has occurred under the leadership of Anthony C. Conte, a former banker and entrepreneur who took the helm as president and chief executive officer in March 2001, when the theater was $5.2 million in debt.

Major outside work was completed when replicas of the original 65-foot-tall, green-and-gold blade sign and “Wonder Theatre” sign were installed in 2004.

A missing pediment recreated from photographs was also put atop the building’s cream terra-cotta facade.

More recently, replicas of the brass exterior doors were installed.

1997  -  Design planning begins with Kideney Architects.

September 1999  - Enlarged stage open to the public: “Phantom of the Opera.”
(Source: Doris Collins, Restoration Manager)
Except for the first two photos, all the photos taken in 2004

December 2014 Photo.

The replica blade and pediment were installed in 2004 ... See also 2002 photos before the replicas were made.

December 2014 Photo.

2004 replica original blade sign is 65 ft. tall, weighs 11,000 pounds, and has 1,100 LED light bulbs.

Original sign was removed around 1942 because of cost and safety concerns.

Such blade signs were prominent on 1920- and 1930s-era movie palaces along Main Street.

2004 Replica Pediment

A missing pediment recreated from photographs was also put atop the building’s cream terra-cotta facade in 2004.

Postcard courtesy of Buffalo Plastering  ... The replica pediment was hand carved by sculptor Leo Lysy of Buffalo Plastering. This pediment is made of GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete
"In 2003 Buffalo Architectural Casting, Inc.  was involved in the restoration of the historic Shea's Theater in Buffalo, New York.  Over the years the original Terra Cotta pediment structurally failed and was removed in the early 1900's.  Buffalo Architectural Casting used photographs of the original building to sculpt a replica of the pediment.  Molds were made and the new pediment was cast from GFRC and installed on the building." - Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting
(online Nov. 2015)

The original pediment (parapet), removed in 1933, was made of architectural terra cotta ...  Most of the historic terra cotta pediments have been removed over the years because of Buffalo winter water damage. Since this a National Historic Site landmark, special permission had to be gotten to replicate the pediment in different materials, i.e., GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete

Pediment details:  Top: finial ..... Rosettes flanking theater mask ..... Leaf-and-dart molding ..... Three paterae ..... Egg-and-dart molding ..... Dentil molding ... Greek theater comedy mask depiction

Below dentil molding:  Scrolling acanthus plants  flank center fleur-de-lis

Scrolling acanthus plants  flank urn ..... Decorated spandrel

Replica of the original  “Wonder Theatre” sign was installed in 2004 ... The brass exterior doors are also replicas.

Photos and their arrangement 2004, 2014 Chuck LaChiusa
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