Shea's Buffalo Theatre - Table of Contents

Auditorium Photos - Shea's Buffalo Theatre
646 Main Street, Buffalo, New York

The text below is an excerpt from the
1975 Shea's Buffalo Theater Nomination for the National Register of Historic Places

The "Motion Picture News" article continues to describe the theater auditorium, which has a seating capacity of approximately 4,000.

The first impression [of the theater auditorium] is that of a harmonious mass of gold, pink and blue. The eye notes the elaborately decorated proscenium arch which has a height of 50 feet. The stage has an opening 66 feet wide. It is 32 feet deep. The balcony seats 1,600.

Click on photos to enlarge


Tiffany Studios, Design for Buffalo Theatre

There are eleven rows of loge seats in the front of the balcony. There are three mammoth arches at each side of the balcony, each of which has a large mirror at the top and a fire exit at the bottom. A large crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling in front of each arch mirror.

At the center of the top of the auditorium is an immense dome, indirectly lighted. This dome is 56 feet north and south by 70 feet east and west. The total distance from the top of the dome to the orchestra floor is 89 feet, a distance equal to the height of the average seven-story office building.

In front of this door is a smaller, rectangular-shaped dome, in which are concealed ten floodlights for the stage.

The whole interior decoration of the theatre is French Renaissance [Ed. Note: Spanish Baroque Revival may be a more accurate] in character, approaching most nearly to the Louis XIV styles, but with a modern and American adaption. The ceiling is covered with an infinite variety of interlacing woodwork designs on curving panels, painted in the dominant golds, pinks and blues, with many variations of these shades.

Ten great hanging lamps in variegated glass provide light at the sides, together with a number of lights of similar glass set in plaques on the walls. At the front the proscenium arch is set off by indirect lights all around.

The orchestra is arranged on a special platform which can be lowered to the basement, and raised to the stage level at the time of the overture. The organ console, similarly arranged, is on a separate elevating unit.

Opportunities for originality in stage fittings are somewhat limited, but the stage of the Shea Buffalo offers something quite different. The fire curtain in the 66-foot wide proscenium, is raised at the opening of the house in the morning, and only the drop of red silk is visible. When this is parted, the real novelty of this stage is visible in the form of enormous gilded gates weighing 1,600 pounds, which slowly fold back. [Ed. note: The original curtain is still in use but the gilded gates have been removed]. The opening of the portal is 42 by 26 feet, and forms the stage proper. The sounding board is attached to this and extends 42 feet into the air, making the acoustics practically faultless ("Ultra Modern Theatres," "Motion Picture News," December 25, 1926, n.p.).

Special thanks to CEO Anthony Conte, Restoration Manager Doris Collins, House Manager Scott Saxon and House Stage Hand Pasquale Syracuse for their cooperation.

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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