The Sattler Theatre
(Broadway Theatre)
Buffalo, NY

When John Sattler decided to build his Beaux-Arts style theater in Buffalo, NY, he forgot the first rule of real estate: location, location, location.

Sattler's Department Store (Source: forgottenbuffalo.com)
Sattler’s Department Store (Source: forgottenbuffalo.com)

Mr. Sattler had years before founded one of the first department stores in the country, and his business sense told him to get in on the area’s movie theater boom of the early 1910s. So, not far from his store—but quite far from the downtown and culture-dense William Street theater districts.

He hired well-known theater architects Henry and William Spann to build a beautiful theater, like none in the area. It would be placed on the site of an older theater, the Casino Theater, and would not feature a stage, unlike its predecessor. The front would be glazed terra cotta, and the inside could accommodate up to 1,200 people.

It was modern in every respect, just as Sattler ordered, when it opened in late 1914.

Away from other cultural centers.

Away from customers.

"Place Tripod Here" my friends would say. But for me, it's the money shot. Note the painting around the inside of the skylight.
“Place Tripod Here” my friends would say. But for me, it’s the money shot. Note the painting around the inside of the skylight.
A closeup of the finely-carved seats in the house, presumably original to the Sattler. There are not too many of these in this kind of condition. If you have a better name for this figure than Cordelia, leave a comment.
A closeup of the finely-carved seats in the house.

In the 1920s Sattler gave up on his big screen dream and the theater was renamed “The Broadway Theatre.” Over the next decades the record gets blurred, except for the fact that a pipe organ was installed in the theater house.

Maybe it’s the location, at the edge of a troubled neighborhood, or maybe it’s the presence of the mysterious organ, but what followed was a string of churches. Muhammad’s Mosque 23 from the 1960s through the 1970s; God’s Holy Temple from the 1970s through the 1980s; and the Joy Temple from the 1980s through 1996, when the building was finally abandoned.

In 2008 the building was purchased by a media company, which plans to restore the building, although no progress has been made as of 2011.