In 2008, this Beaux Arts style theater was spared the wrecking ball by a non-profit company’s $40,000 purchase with promises to renovate the building. They’ve since given tours and accepted donations to raise money, and we were given access as the last ever tour group to see the theater before renovations begin.
The Sattler Theater was built in 1914. It was renamed the Broadway Theater after being purchased in 1920, eventually called Basil’s Broadway. After closing as a theater, it was used for a while as a Muhammad’s Mosque (1960’s), God’s Holy Temple (1976-1984), and Joy Temple Church (1987-1996). [x]
After years of decay, the theater was spared the wrecking ball by New York nonprofit company Western New York Minority Media Professionals, Inc., who plans to use the theater as a headquarters and production center for youth theater programs. To raise money for the restoration, they’ve given paid tours for photographers and visitors like us, and announced when we’d arrived that renovations were beginning right after our visit.
It was built to last on the site of a former, beloved theater that had burned down, and it was only its sturdy construction that preserved the structure enough to make renovation possible today. The lobby of the theater’s purple paint is peeling back to reveal silver and gold swirled patterns, layered over years of change. The decorative molding over the doors has fallen away, showing a temporary, hand painted theatrical mask pattern, and the floor tiles beneath the dust are brightly colored and in good shape.
Through the doorway, past an assortment of seats, a sharp beam of light split through the oculus skylight in the ceiling, illuminating a spot in the audience. Keyboards and pianos had been left behind when the churches left, decaying with the structure, and one side of the balcony was too dangerous to reach. But the intricate details remained, with even some of the stained slag glass windows remaining unbroken in their sills.
The theater seats had been replaced over the years, featuring both ornate antique masthead motifs with intricately carved wreath patterns as well as sleek, vintage modern styles of the 30’s and 40’s.
Restoration work began that week. We look forward to going back to Buffalo for the opening gala, and to take some “after” shots!