The original owner of the North Park in the 1920s, theatre magnate Michael Shea, believed a movie theatre should capture the imaginations of filmgoers as soon as they enter the building. According to Shea, a theatre should lift the “common man” out of his daily routine and place him in a setting so grandiose, so richly detailed, that he should think it the most natural thing in the world to watch his dreams come to life on the silver screen.
With the opening of the North Park on November 21st, 1920, Shea achieved his goal. On its opening day, The Buffalo Evening Times hailed the North Park as “Buffalo’s Finest Neighborhood Theatre”, with a decor rivaling “in beauty and appointment that of any opera house in America.”
Visitors praised the North Park’s elegant neoclassical foyer and auditorium, designed by Buffalo architect Henry Spann, as well as its murals by famed 1901 Pan-American Exposition painter Raphael Beck.
The North Park’s iconic Art Deco marquee came about 20 years later, in 1941. Designed and built by Flexlume Signs, the “Shea’s” name at top proudly remained in place long after the theatre had changed ownership.
When the digital revolution rattled the film industry to its core, it became clear that a massive investment into digital projection would be necessary for the North Park to survive, building owner and local defense attorney Tom Eoannou saw an opportunity to go above and beyond – to invest in this widely beloved neighborhood jewel on a grander scale, and to restore the North Park Theatre to its 1920s glory.
And so it stands today – the North Park Theatre has captured the imaginations of generations of Buffalo movie lovers, and they look forward to its capturing the imaginations of generations to come.