It won’t be long until the North Park Theatre is in full working order again. Tomorrow marks a milestone day for the theatre, in that the lucky few will be able to get a sneak peek at the work that has been completed thus far (see gala). From the fantastic marquee restored by Flexlume with its original colors and schemes, to the $90,000+ digital projector and meticulously restored original interior that has not been properly viewed since the original Shea’s Theater vacated the building (see image below), Buffalo is going to have a very unique North Buffalo destination on its hands in 2014.
Owners Tom Eoannou and Mike Christiano are pulling no stops on this transformation. As luck would have it, the entire restoration project happened when Mike (a local restaurateur) was having breakfast next door when Tom (the building owner) walked up to him asking him what he thought about the future of the theatre. After a long discussion revolving around the importance of the theater, that same day the two embarked upon an effort that neither one expected to be so extensive. Before long the two were pulling up the rugs and finding marble floors, and replacing long lost chandeliers with handsome vintage versions from a theater that was being liquidated in Philadelphia. Not to mention exposing the leaded glass transom windows, cleaning the accumulated cigarette smoke off of just about every nook and cranny, replacing ornamental plaster, highlighting and painting detailed facets of the stage, refurbishing the interior dome artwork with five fully restored, neoclassical panels* (painted by Pan-American Exposition artist Raphael Beck)… in the end, theater goers will not know what to look at – the movies or the restoration work.
Finally North Buffalo will have an (almost) fully restored gem that will be showing the most current digital films, in comfy seats with drink holders. The goal of the independent movie house is to stay current, but also be diverse. That might mean that there might be a kids’ matinee during the day on weekends before turning the screen over to double features in the evening. The intent is to bring back the movie viewing experience to the way that it was 20-30 years ago. Whether that means a trip to the women’s powder room (a real antiquated powder room), or purchasing movie tickets at the historic ticket booth, the transformation of the North Park Theatre is going to be as talked about as the films that it presents.
*Work conducted by Swiatek Studios – photos Facebook | Photo below: Shea’s North Park | Lead image: Glenn E. Murray