Looking Backward: Court Street, 1919

by / Feb. 14, 2017 5pm EST

“When the curtain falls on the stage at Shea’s Court Street theater tonight for the last time, an institution will have passed. The lights will dim. There will be no audience, no mirthful laughter or hilarious shouts from the gallery boys. Phantoms of the halcyon past of the two-a-day will roam the stage in the grim silence.” —Buffalo Courier-Express, November 7, 1926

Court Street was and is one of the important radial boulevards of Buffalo. Here, in a photograph taken by Hauser Bob in 1918, is the south side of Court Street between Pearl and Franklin streets. From left to right are Denton, Cottier, & Daniels, a musical instruments store dating to 1827 and moved in 1912 to this five-story building (constructed in 1906); the Shea’s Court Street, built in 1905; and the Hermitage, a handsome three-story hotel that housed a ground-story ice cream parlor when this photograph was taken. Moorish in style and clad in pearl grey terra cotta, Shea’s Court Street was designed by Leon Lempert & Son of Rochester. Its stage was trod by some of the most famous names in vaudeville, such as Lillian Russell and Charlie Chaplin, and it was the nucleus of the Shea operation until Shea’s Buffalo opened in 1926. Shea’s Court Street was razed in 1941. The building that housed Denton, Cottier, & Daniels was demolished in 1977 for a second Buffalo hotel never built by San Francisco developer Clement Chen. The Hermitage was razed at some indefinite point. All three sites on this block are surface parking lots today.