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North Park renovation reveals hidden treasures

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WBFO News file photo
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The North Park Theatre is giving patrons a sneak peek at some of the improvements, architectural enhancements, and new artwork that have been added to the building since renovations began in June. Cinema lovers can see the improvements during a fundraiser gala Friday night.

North Park Theatre Program Director Ray Barker says he is encouraging everyone to get involved with the restoration project. 

“I think it’s important to get the community involved because it’s a neighborhood movie theater and there are not many neighborhood movie theaters left in the United States, but we’ve been fortunate in Buffalo that this theater has survived. I want the community to have a sense of ownership over what it is that we’re doing,” said Barker.

The rehabilitation project has cost $96,000 so far. The funds have helped construct additional restrooms and more.

“We’ve completely renovated the auditorium, including the beautiful domed ceiling of the auditorium with a Raphael Beck painting. Raphael Beck was a local artist associated with the 1901 Pan American Exhibition. So, we’ve renovated the painting [and] the lighting, we’ve repainted, we’ve repaired plaster, and there’s been an extensive renovation to the lobby,” said Barker.

But, Barker says more work is left to do before the building reopens.

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Credit WBFO News file photo
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The new marquee outside of the North Park Theatre.

“We’ve restored the 1941 marquee, but above that marquee hidden behind a concrete wall was a beautiful stained glass mural and when the theater was sold by Shea’s to Lowes back in the 50s, Lowes covered that up and it has not been seen since. So, monies that people contribute would go towards stained glass restoration,” said Barker.

North Park opened in 1920. It was originally part of the Shea's theater chain. The fundraiser will take place Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets for the event will be sold at the door.

“The expectation is for us to be the best place to see a movie in western New York, to have the most beautiful ambiance, to have the biggest screen, to have state-of-the-art sound. We want this to be a movie palace,” said Barker.

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