Auburn's theater history celebrated at Schines anniversary event

2013-09-16T03:00:00Z 2014-04-01T16:45:12Z Auburn's theater history celebrated at Schines anniversary eventJessica Soule | Special to The Citizen Auburn Citizen
September 16, 2013 3:00 am  • 

Once a shining star itself, the Auburn Schines Theater attracted many celebrities to its 75th birthday party Sunday at Willard Memorial Chapel.

The Save Our Schine group commemorated the historical downtown Auburn theater's 75th anniversary with a presentation called “The Neighbors,” a shortened version of a longer program called “Auburn Theatre City.” People were invited to dress as their favorite film stars. Elvis rubbed elbows with Judy Garland as Dorothy in her trademark role. John Wayne appeared, proving Sophie Tucker wrong that “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” the songstress's signature song.

The evening started with a showing of “Wholly Smoke,” the first cartoon shown at the Schines when it opened in September 1938, a short cartoon featuring Porky Pig. Then, three women from Save Our Schine read a script that narrated a slide show that presented photos, newspaper clippings and a timeline of Auburn's major theaters of the past.

The S.O.S. group created shortened versions of the presentation to fit different needs for community groups, and will lead a presentation in October.

“Our intent is to educate the community of what was in the past,” said Mary Farrell, of Save Our Schines. In doing that, the group hopes to help the community get an “understanding of why to save the Schines Theatre.”

“It should be restored as soon as possible,” said Arlene Ryan, also of Save Our Schine. “And in our lifetime!”

Besides the Schines, the presentation detailed the theaters such as the Capitol, Strand, Jefferson and Palace.

After the program, people had refreshments, ate birthday cake and perused memorabilia on display.

The theater's South Street building is owned by the Cayuga County Arts Council Inc. Board members Collin Sullivan and Dia Carabajal were among the 50 people who attended the presentation.

“We're here to celebrate with them,” Carabajal said. “All contributions are welcome.”

She added that the council started an fundraiser to help pay for the upkeep of the building's exterior and marquee. It also will host a fundraiser called Artini (a play off the word martini) from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at The Point, Sand Beach Road, Fleming.

Farrell said they use the presentations as a chance to raise awareness among those who may be interested but don't know much about the theater.

“We hope to teach, and continue to learn at the same time,” she said.

As she began her research, Farrell was surprised that there were so many theaters, and iterations of what became the city's major venues. The research took two years as it snowballed into a bigger project as they discovered more and more details, she said.

“It was very arduous,” she said of the research phase. “I spent a lot of time in the history room.”

The past was unwound by spending hours delving into resources at Seymour Library, the historian's office and local websites, specifically the newspaper archive site

Sunday was about celebrating the beginning of the theater more than seven decades ago, with the hope that the community will see it be revived to its past glory.

“The Schines Theater became a centerpiece of the city that night,” Farrell said of the September 1938 dedication, “and remained so for years.”

Jeremy Boyer can be reached at (315) 282-2231 or Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBoyer

Copyright 2015 Auburn Citizen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Git r done
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    Git r done - September 17, 2013 11:20 am
    The group is called Save Our SCHINE - because the name of the theater is the SCHINE Theater. As a "news source" and a information repository of records, you are obligated to get the facts and details correct before you print something. Please. Just because the group who pretends to be the guardians of this amazing theater are confused and ill-informed, that is no excuse for the newspaper to continue to disseminate their misinformation. And could someone please provide the NAMES of the women who took their time, energies and talents to present the program? To refer to them simply as "three women" is highly insulting!
  2. FablusGrl
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    FablusGrl - September 16, 2013 6:33 pm
  3. FablusGrl
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    FablusGrl - September 16, 2013 6:33 pm
    I was at this event entirely produced by the SOS. There were over 100 people at it, 112 I think, to be exact; not merely 50, and I would encourage the Citizen to send a reporter next time to be able to get facts correct. If residents of the city of Auburn continue to jump on the bandwagon to work toward this restoration without depending upon the owners, once again the Schine will flourish; maybe differently than before. There are several multi-purpose theatre venues available within any city when POSITIVE creative minds come together; with the ideas of the caring residents of those cities, and this group is growing all the time! Congrats SOS, GREAT JOB!
  4. fullytaxed
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    fullytaxed - September 16, 2013 4:11 pm
    And the Theater Project is somehow different? No there isn't any place for kids to play anymore. It starts with the lack of funding and liability concerns. As more non profits pop up and less revenue comes into the city this will only get worse.
  5. Maizy
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    Maizy - September 16, 2013 12:25 pm
    Save the money you'll waste on rebuilding this GHOST. This venue that only a minimal number of folks will use is a joke. Decades of money wasting and poor decisions are continuing
    Spend it building some areas for kids to play in, skateboard, enjoy the fresh air. I think Wegman's would provide enough funding to turn the block into a huge store and further donate monies for these NEEDED areas for our kids.
  6. The Word
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    The Word - September 16, 2013 11:07 am
    How typical of the Arts Council and their "At Large" members to show up and exploit the hard work of others to promote their own agenda. .. Great job S.O.S. group!!!
  7. fullytaxed
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    fullytaxed - September 16, 2013 10:26 am
    Sometime in the future we will be witnessing the demolition of the Shine theater, I'm sad to admit. As long as there is competing interests in Auburn (ie.. Music Theater) any revitalization effort is doomed. The Shine could become a true multi-venue asset, much like the landmark in Syracuse, not only plays, but concerts, and yes movies. Is it cheap or easy to do? absolutely not. But as long as the MGT dominates that discussion it will only fall to ruins sadly. The Shine could be a 365 day venue vs a part time single use venue. We continue to allow a few elitists to dominate the discussion and that's sad. Could it be because the elitist don't stand to gain anything from it?
  8. acs
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    acs - September 16, 2013 9:13 am
    The Cayuga County Arts Council is raising money for the Schines Theater online through an indiegogo campaign. Find out more at:

    We are also holding an "ARTini" cocktail party fundraiser for the Schine on Sept. 26 at "The Point." Tickets are $35.

    More information on the Schines Theater project can be found at: .
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