Taking a look back at the now demolished ‘The Lafayette Theater’, the vision was financed with a $3,000,000 investment. The funding would be the catalyst for the development of premier downtown destination that would feature a theater and office complex. The new theater would be used for vaudeville and movies, while rest of the 10-story structure was dedicated to office space.
Construction began on January 1, 1921. It would seat over 3,500 people and engineer the most advanced technology and construction techniques available, including “Carrier Air Washers”, manufactured by Buffalo Forge, which filtered the air in the theater and completely refreshed it every five minutes.
Lackawanna Bridge Works installed an 85-ton master girder across the orchestra seats like a bridge; it held up the balcony and gallery without posts or columns which would have obstructed sight lines. It was only the second theater in the U.S. to have this sort of feature.
The interior featured a good deal of real marble. It featured rich ornamental work, murals, crystal chandeliers and ceiling domes with leaded glass.The theater had its grand opening on February 27, 1922. It offered high-class vaudeville and first-run movies. The theater also featured box seats. The great dome above the theater had indirect lighting and lights in leaded glass domes around the ceiling which could be changed to any of four colors and also dimmed. The theater added new technology over time. adding air conditioning in 1936.
Overall, The Lafayette Theater had great success throughout the early years. In the later years it would suffer decline in attendance due to theaters like Shea’s and the Paramount on Main Street. In the 1962 it was bought by Benderson Development. They planned to demolish the theater portion to give way for surface parking for the tenants of the 10 story building. The building remained derelict until it was demolished in 1972. It is currently a parking lot. Hopefully, with the city on the rise, developers will once again see the potential of such a corner, and rebuild, this paying tribute to this once significant beauty.