Stanley Theatre

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The Stanley Theatre offers the full paranormal sports package.

Spirits of theatre arts performers and the strongly connected cause interesting activity.



The Stanley Theatre (Stanley Center for the Arts) is a grand old dame; a vintage late 1920s movie palace landmark, built to impress and entertain the public in just 13 months, providing a spectacular atmosphere for folks to come and watch films straight from Hollywood! This 2,963 seat cinema extravaganza edifice that opened on September 10, 1928, was the labor of love by well-known famous architect Thomas Lamb, who is “considered one of the foremost designers of theaters and cinemas in the 20th century,” being responsible for over 300 theatres world-wide. Thomas Lamb’s visionary structural creations built in America that are still standing, are The Stanley, Proctor’s Theatre and The Landmark Theatre. It is no wonder that it is on the National List of Historic Places, since August of 1976.

It originally was destined to be the movie house for the Mastbaum brothers’ chain of theatres. It was named for Stanley Mastbaum, to be run by the Stanley-Mark Strand Corporation. Three days before The Stanley opened, the Stanley-Mark Strand Corporation was bought by Warner Brothers, who were thrilled to have such a magnificent theatre to showcase their films.

The outside and inside of this structure makes the patron feel like royalty, offering an artistic feast for the eyes, and a boost to the spirit. Lamb came through with a theatre that offers an atmosphere that takes the patron away from the woes and dreariness of everyday life and bumps in the road, offering a place of beauty and style.

Lamb used a variety of architectural styles to create this building, especially Mexican influences and Baroque, earning the description of his efforts as resembling “Mexican Baroque”, that adorned the facade, lobbies, Titanic-like central staircase, the theatre auditorium and domed ceiling. The Stanley Theatre’s design that was inspired by Mexican art can be seen on the theatre’s outside facade, showcasing wonderful Terra Cotta and tiled mosaic. The gold leaf and common Baroque motifs are found throughout the interior of the theatre, including ornate gilded Hapsburg lions, Indian faces, angels and cherubs.

Lamb wasn’t stuck creatively with using just one or two influences when he created his theatre masterpieces. A touch of Moorish influence is also visible inside the auditorium, with stars twinkling from the domed ceiling, and the adornment of twisted columns on either side of the stage. The twisted columns are also found on the outside facade, amongst the Mexican Baroque elements.

Throughout the depression, WW2, the 1950s-1970s, it basically was still a movie house, but its owners also had the foresight to introduce live stage performances to its marque as well, that have continued on to the present. Great Artists Series (over 75 years), Broadway Theatre league/national touring productions (50 years), Utica Symphony (over 60 years), Mohawk Valley Ballet, and many well-known singers and performers.

During the 1960s, when the theatre district was dismantled in the name of Urban Renewal progress, The Stanley Theatre carried on, despite being in need of much TLC and a boatload of money for a restoration. By 1974, this now woe-be-gone fixer upper nearly had a date with the wrecking ball, but a citizen’s group rallied forth, calling themselves New York Community Arts Council. They stirred up the community at large who loved their theatre, and raised enough money, a whopping $135,000, to rescue the theatre from the clutches of redevelopment contractors, saving a city landmark.

In 2008, the New York Community Arts council renamed this beloved old gal, The Stanley Center for the Arts. 18 million dollars was spent to renovate and restore this historic theatre. As of 2012, it is still going strong! Recent acts include Tony Bennett, Jerry Seinfeld, Jackson Browne, the Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day’s American Idiot and Shrek: The Musical.

Like many other large theatres, The Stanley Center for the Arts also rents out its space as a venue for weddings, receptions and special events. What a lovely place to be married in, and celebrate! Private events would benefit also from such an impressive venue!



Many theatres that are listed on, are the after-life retirement residences of past owners, managers, employees and patrons who supported and worked at the theatre in question, while still alive and kicking in this world.

Spirits of Actors, and performers of the arts often have found memories of a theatre or yearnings to perform again on the theatre’s stage, and decide to stay and get their thrills out of watching the living do so, perhaps even trying to perform themselves. When information is preceded with a “Perhaps”, these suggestions are my own thoughts and theories, for you to digest and think about.

(A thumb-nail sketch of some of the activity that was reported in Haunted Mohawk Valley, by Dennis Webster and Bernadette Peck is listed below. To get a full account of their adventures, BUY THE BOOK, and support a brave author and a gutsy paranormal group, Ghost Seekers of Central New York.)

When information is preceded with a “Perhaps”, these suggestions are my own thoughts and theories, for you to digest and think about.



Activity in the Theatre Auditorium

People have heard footsteps on the stage area, when no one living was there.

Perhaps shadows/manifestations have been spotted there as well, as one source stated that there were definitely entities on stage.

Ghostly Patrons

A seat, or a row of seats thought to be in the balcony; (Common knowledge, reported on several websites.)

Theatre folklore has said that a seat, or a row of seats in the theatre are left unsold on purpose, in order to leave some seats for its ghostly patrons, who have been loyal attendees to all of the Stanley Theatre’s films and other events in the past, and apparently still do so today, enjoying the orchestra concerts and the stage shows as well.

I found two personal experiences of people who sat in one of these empty seats. They felt something try to sit on them, and push them out of the seat. One report claimed that the seat became really icy cold.

Unknown Entity

A large cold spot has been experienced in the balcony seating area by Exit 5; the upper right corner.

Both Dennis Webster and Ghost Seeker member, Bernadette Peck had personal experiences there.

Near Exit 3 in the balcony, a partial manifestation of an entity: Perhaps a spectral patron of the theatre, or an usher or projectionist was experienced.

Unknown Entity

Perhaps a gentleman who was a bartender, or perhaps a theater manager.

Items moved all by themselves in a dramatic fashion.

Female Entity

Perhaps a long dead restroom attendant from yesteryear, still working her job?

This spirit apparently likes the Ladies Room and sitting area, and the stairs leading down to the basement area as well.

Sensitive people have felt an unseen presence in the Ladies Room and in the area around it, including the stairs, and feel that they are being watched.


uticaYes Indeed!

Although it is not known for sure who these entities are, and why they are in residence in the Stanley Theatre (Stanley Center for the Arts), both personal experiences of the living and hard evidence of paranormal activity that was caught by a variety of equipment, highly suggest proof of some intelligent entities, and residual hauntings as well.

Personal experiences have been reported for years, especially after the theatre started its long trek back from the brink, experiencing restoration to its original splendor. Ghost Seekers of Central New York held an investigation in the Stanley Theatre (Stanley Center for the Arts): taking with them, author Dennis Webster along for the ride, experiencing and capturing on their equipment some paranormal activity. Ghost Seekers of CNY caught on digital film, a shadowy entity, floating down to the Ladies Room.

In the Ladies Room area, they experienced, among other things, some interesting paranormal exchanges with an entity, who even volunteered a name. The hard evidence caught in the bathroom, backed up what was caught on THEIR digital film camera right before and during the interaction with this spirit. Other hard evidence was captured in the theatre itself, as well as the investigators having their own personal experiences, in the theatre, in places listed above, and in the second lobby bar area.



259 Genesee Street
Utica, NY 13501
(315) 724-1113

The theatre is located on the left, 1.5 miles south of the New York State Thruway (I-90), exit 31, on Genesee Street; between Court Street and Rebecca Street. This location in 1928 was only 4 blocks away from the Utica Theatre District, that was torn down in the 1960s-1970s.


  • “Haunted Mohawk Valley” by Dennis Webster and Bernadette Peck
    The History Press, 2012
  • Ghost Seekers of Central New York * the-haunting-of-the-stanley-theatre-cny-paranormal

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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