Apr 6, 2012

A Final Goodbye to the Marlowe Theater

What was once a neighborhood movie palace is now another vacant lot on the city’s west side. The former Marlowe Theater at 257 Virginia has now been completely demolished, leaving a massive empty footprint on the corner of Virginia and 10th Streets. I previously covered the full history of the building here, but I’ve been lucky enough to uncover more.
Image courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society
There are a thousand stories for every building in a city and the Marlowe was no exception. I was able to dig up the blueprints for the building throughout the years including the original plans for the building and the modifications and expansion of 1941. John Oishei officially hired William Andrew Kidd as the architect for his new theater on March 25, 1913 as illustrated by Oishei’s signature on the agreement page below.
1915 Signature
After the theater changed hands to Matt Konczakowski in 1929 he planned to alter and expand the theater in 1939. He hired William L. Spann, a local architect who is responsible for many of the neighborhood movie theaters that were scattered throughout Buffalo. The plans called for a modern, art deco façade, nearly doubling the size of the theater, and some interior changes. You can see how different the actual built work was from the original design.
1915 Marlowe
1913 Original Elevation
1941 Front
1939 Modified Elevation (not built as planned)
The full demolition of the theater has taken several weeks, but I was there the moment the wrecking equipment first began its work, check out the short video below, which is a shortened version of over an hour of footage. The wrecking crew admitted that even though the building wasn’t maintained over the last fifty years, the deterioration of the exterior was mostly face bricks, not structural.

The number of historic neighborhood movie theaters in Buffalo is dwindling fast. Those which still exist have typically been modified beyond recognition or are in extreme states of deterioration. The Marlowe did need some serious investment, but the original integrity of the building was more or less intact. Neighborhood movie theaters are a dying breed and now, the Marlowe is just another casualty along the way.

For additional historic and current photos of the Marlowe as well as the complete set of plans for theater, check out my Flickr page, Views of Buffalo or view them as a slideshow here.

257 Virginia V
Marlowe Interior Before
Marlowe Interior After

Views of Buffalo Flickr     -     fixBuffalo     -     The Atlantic Cities     -     The Urbanophile

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