Written from the articles of the Andover News


 Pictures from Andover Historian Robert A. Baker; Article submitted by William A. Greene 2006


In September of 1907 a group of men decided that it was time again that Andover have an opera house.  The Prest Opera House hadn’t been used as an opera house in a few years and these gentlemen thought that it was time.  So a committee consisting of the following gentlemen John E. Cannon, Frank S. Clarke, Crayton L. Earley, John Common, J. Harvey Backus, Abram C. Frisbey and Peter L. Lynch purchased the property on the corner of Main and Greenwood Streets from an E. O. Wescott in November of 1907.



On this property stood the Imperial Hotel, John Davis’s billiard room, and a few other buildings.  The Imperial Hotel was sold and moved to corner of Second St. and Maple Ave. in June of 1908 and remodeled into a tenant house where it stands today.  The billiard building moved and several other buildings were torn down and the hotel livery barn was left alone.

By December of 1907 plans were drawn up by Leon H. Lempert & Son, of Rochester, builders of some of the best theaters in this state.  The plans called for a brick building 90ft. by 105ft. with a height varying from 24 to 35ft.  The plans called for an elegant public hall with a entrance from Main St., a kitchen annexed to accommodate church fairs, festivals and banquets of various orders and kinds, together with a trap cell to store benches, chairs and paraphernalia in. In addition there would be a theater with modern seats, boxes, balcony, scenery, dressing and toilet rooms and equipment and, by combination with the public hall, a large spacious stage sufficient to accommodate the best company.  On the Main St. side there will be four small storefronts.

By the middle of February 1908 the first load of stone had been drawn on the lot to start building the basement walls.



By the end of March 1908 the above named committee had sold stocks to local people to help in the funding in the building of the opera house.  They called the company The Home Enterprise Company of Andover, N.Y.  They were incorporated under the laws of the state of New York with the following officers and directors: Pres., Crayton L. Earley; Sec., John Cannon; V.P.; John Common; Treas. Frank S. Clarke.  The board of directors consisted of Abram C. Frisbey, Peter L. Lynch and J. Harvey Backus.

Also at this time, the building of the opera house had to be delayed due to financial conditions and on account of the fact that it took much longer to satisfactorily arrange the plans and specifications than it was supposed to take.

In the middle of April 1908 the Home Enterprise Company of Andover closed a deal with contractor Scott Prest for the building of the new theatre and commercial block, on the corner of Main and Greenwood Streets.  The contract price as per specifications of Leon H. Lempert & Son of Rochester, was $11,000, but Mr. Prest made a suggestion of altering the plans which will not in the least effect the beauty, strength or usefulness of the building but save the company $500 from the price. 

By the first part of December 1908 Andover is getting ready for opening night at the Auditorium. Andover’s beautiful new Auditorium will formally open to the public on the evening of Dec. 14, 1908. A feast of beauty and an excellent entertainment awaits the throng who will crowd it doors the opening night to see “We Are King.”

Andover’s well known reputation of doing things right had been fully carried out, and when the doors opened to the public they saw one of the finest playhouses in Western New York.  Lasting credit was due to contractor Scott Prest, whose exceptional ability and untiring energy had made the building possible.  Along with the architects and decorating artists Leon H. Lampert & Son of Rochester, who had built some of the finest theaters in America.

The Auditorium was on the ground floor, with nine easy exits and had seating capacity of about 600.  The lower floor contained 352 comfortable mahogany chairs.  Wm H. Maltby & Sons decorated the upper and lower boxes on each side, balcony and proscenium in stucco.  The stage was of ample size and height and the dressing rooms were sufficient to conveniently accommodate the best traveling companies.  The elaborate scenery and stage settings were from the studio of Alphonse Ball of Buffalo.


 Andover citizens built the entire building.  It was 92 feet wide on the Greenwood St. side and 102 feet long on the Main St. side.  In addition to the Auditorium and lobby, four stores, a commodious lodge room, one suite of living rooms and a public hall were housed there.  The Main St. entrance floor was made of hardwood and was 33x 82 feet.  The building was built of brick and tile.

On Monday night December 14, 1908, 500 people gather in Andover’s new Auditorium to see “We Are King” by A. W. Cross of New York City. It was a great success.

A Ball was held on December 30, 1908 with music provided by Keating’s Olean Orchestra.  This was also considered a great success.

 In June of 1911 electricity was added to the building.  The Home Enterprise Company purchased a two cylinder, two cycle, Brush Gas Engine with a generator attached to make the electricity.  They also purchased a new Edison moving picture machine so Andover could have the most modern auditorium around.  H. C. Hathaway of Hornell also installed electric lights.  P.M. Bond also of Hornell sold them the electrical equipment.  The first movie was shown on Wednesday June 28, 1911.

Around January 1921 the Home Enterprise Company sold its entire property to Chauncey E. Brown and Raymond O. Snyder.

Around 1922 or 1923 John Karcanes purchased the entire business block from Brown and Snyder.  John and his uncle James Karcanes had purchased one of the businesses that was connected to the Auditorium back in 1915.  They purchased the “Sugar Bowl” from Nick Cretekoes.  When James Karcanes went back to Greece, John took over the business and ran that store for over 50 years.

In 1926 John began operating the theatre, which still had stage shows and silent movies.

In 1927 a new era was ushered in when “talking pictures” were presented in the local theatre along with weekly dances being held at the dance hall as well as roller-skating.

I don’t know how many people owned the Auditorium after John Karcanes.  I know the Ryback Brothers sold the building to Clifford Nye and John “Jack” Padden in March of 1959.  I do know a Frank Chase of Whitesville ran the movie theater for a number of years and then at some point Glenn Thorp of Andover purchased the theatre and showed movies there until 1972. Then he shut the doors due to attendance.

At about 7A.M.on the morning of May 19, 1975 the roof of the old theatre fell in and again at about 12:30P.M.  No other part of the building was damaged.  But it was the beginning of the end.



At 3:30A.M. on July 5, 1983 part of the wall facing Main St. fell down covering Rt. 21 with bricks and the sidewalks on both sides of the street.  Something had to be done as the once splendor of Andover was now a hazard to the community. 

So in the late summer of 1983 the building was torn down and taken away by the Fred Johnson Co. of Hornell, N.Y.



Today a Uni-Mart stands in its place.  I don’t think that there could be a happy ending to this story.  Once people went there to relax and be entertained, now they go there for a tank of gas and a quick cup of coffee.  Quite a difference