BUFFALO, NY - The historic Uptown Theatre on Bailey Avenue is coming back to life and it will serve a new purpose for the community. The former movie house was gutted, 600 seats were removed, and it underwent a series of renovations, from new flooring to a new stage.
Owner and developer Ibrahim Cisse explains the open space will be used for community events.
"It is something that is lacking in this area, and in this neighborhood and this area of town," Cisse said. "Anytime you want to have any kind of family event, you have to go outside this area."
The theater will be used for events ranging from graduations to jazz concerts to school plays and performances.
The historic theater on Bailey Avenue was built in 1926. It has had several lives, having once been the Varsity Movie House, then showing art films in the '60s, and eventually transitioning to adult films when times got tough.
During renovations, the community held a dozen events where volunteers helped tear out seats and clean up the building.
Groups like University Heights Tool Library provided the crowbars and wrenches and hammers to help rebuild.
"In a community like this, there isn't a ton of working capital, so every little bit of volunteer labor and in-kind sweat equity really goes a long way in bringing these buildings back," said Darren Cotton, with the University District Community Development Association.
The theater will be accessible to the Early Childhood Center that is next door, and to two other nearby schools.
The first scheduled event will revolve around Black History Month.
The bones of the theater, from the marble to the wood doors and carved ceiling, have all been preserved, and eventually the facade and marque will be restored.
The theater will reopen on February 12.