Shea’s is celebrating its 95th anniversary. Did you know that this theater almost didn’t make it? Doris Collins, Shea’s restoration consultant says they wanted to make it into a parking lot. The wrecking crew was there three times and very interested people who did not want to see that happen banded together. They called themselves The Friends of Shea’s Buffalo and they got it registered to the National Historic site. Restoration and now preservation continues with the army of volunteers who support the Shea’s O’Connell Preservation Guild.
Shea’s opened in January of 1926. It did very well for a number of years, even during the depression it was still functioning very well and even though things were a bit slower during World War II, they still had some big name entertainers coming to Shea’s to raise money for the troop says Doris Collins. She goes on to say towards the late 40’s when all those GI’s came back, things started to deteriorate and it was becoming rather shabby looking. A gentleman by the name of Leon Sidell bought it in 1962. He got it for $400,000. Unfortunately, after a little bit of success he went bankrupt at which time the City took over the building because of nonpayment of property taxes and they planned to tear it down.
Michael Murphy, president of Shea’s says it’s very exciting to see the building survived so much through the decades and is still here 95 years later. He says he’s looking forward to five years from now when they celebrate their 100th anniversary.