Built in 1925 to replace the original wood-framed movie house in Gowanda, the Hollywood Theater was designed by a prominent theater designer at the time, Leon Lempert & Son. Seating nearly 1000 patrons on two levels, the building remained in operation until 1992 when it became too difficult to maintain the aged building systems. An additional seven years of neglect continued until it was purchased in 1999 by a local business who then donated it to the newly formed Historic Hollywood Theater Ltd., a not-for-profit community organization. It has been this organization’s mission to restore, rehabilitate and preserve the historic building for reuse as a performance space for film and live entertainment.
FBA has been involved with Hollywood Theater since 2008 with phased updates and restoration efforts including: mechanical systems, handicapped accessibility, plumbing and electrical systems, lighting restoration, and refinishing the original wood doors. Phase IV will begin soon which will focus on the interior of the theater. The decorative painting on the ceiling includes 5 soft colors with a metallic accent that were hand-painted and are original to 1925. Much of the original painting remains and is covered in nicotine and soot, it will be cleaned in order to be treated and then infilled. The interior plaster will also be restored to its original state in this phase. Future work at Hollywood Theater includes the restoration of 700+ original seats in the theater and the completion of the interior restoration efforts.
Restoration work is ongoing