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Shea's begins final major upgrades at Buffalo Theatre

The fourth phase of auditorium restorations at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre is now underway. Once completed, only minor updates will remain in the restoration project that began nearly two decades ago.

Construction crews were putting scaffolding in place in the auditorium Tuesday to begin the final major restoration of the historic auditorium. The major renovations have cost a total of $2.5 million. The last phase will be to rehabilitate a large portion of the ceiling, including the dome and high walls.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
Construction crews put scaffolding in place to begin final major ceiling restoration at Shea's Buffalo Theatre.

Shea’s President Anthony Conte says architects will clean, paint and fix cracks in the ceiling, restoring it to its original splendor.

“Right now, if you look at the dome, the dome is really muted. When you look at the dome three months from now, it will jump out at you, because the colors will be really vibrant and then you’ll really be able to see them,”  said Conte.

Over the past 18 years, $20 million of public, private and donated funds have gone into the restoration at Shea’s. The major upgrades have included a new steel catwalk, refinishing under the balcony and near the organ wall, and restoring only a small portion of the ceiling.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
Shea's Performing Art's President Anthony Conte explaining the upgrades.

Conte says once the ceiling is complete, only small odds and ends such as updating the theatre’s technology and sound system, as well finishing the lighting work are left on their to do list.

“The mission of our organization is the complete restoration of the building, to take it back to the way it looked in 1926. We feel as a national historic site that’s very important. When you’re working on a national historic site you don’t make it modern, you want it to look like it did when it was opened. Then our mission is to maintain it,” said Conte.

Conte says the ceiling project will be complete by the end of August. The full renovation of Shea’s Buffalo Theatre is expected to be finished sometime next summer.