Riviera Theater (North Tonawanda)


The Riviera Theatre is listed on the National and New York State Register of Historic Places. The theatre is a historic, 1140 seat entertainment venue in North Tonawanda, New York. The theatre hosts a multitude of performing arts events per year, including live concerts, theatre, dance shows, and movies. The Riviera's Mighty WurliTzer theatre organ has been fully restored, is continually maintained by volunteers, and is famed as being one of two original WurliTzer demonstrator organs, which the company would use to show off to potential clients in the height of the silent film era.HistoryA local landmark and movie house, the theatre was constructed in 1926 to much fanfare, and was originally named "The New Rivera." The first films shown were Upstage starring Norma Shearer and The Mona Lisa. The Wurlitzer Theatre organ installed in the theatre: Opus 1524 was shipped from the nearby (4 mi) Wurlitzer Organ Factory on November 19, 1926. Listed as a Model 235 Special, the organ differed from a standard 3 manual 11 rank Model 235, by substituting an Oboe Horn rank of pipes from the standard Salicional pipes usually found on this model. Other differences included the omission of the standard remote Piano, and a 5 H.P. blower instead of the 7-1/2 H.P. The console was painted and decorated to harmonize with the theatre’s interior, by Wurlitzer’s Band Organ Artist. The theatre was also a popular vaudeville venue. During the Depression, the theatre was purchased by the Shea's Theater company. At the end of the silent movie era in the 1930s, the Wurlitzer Theatre organ went into disuse and disrepair and was not heard again until 1944, when it was refurbished. The Riviera was sold to Dipson Theatres and then to MDA Associates. The theatre changed hands many more times since then.


67 Webster St
North Tonawanda, NY


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