Mt. Upton Theatre
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Previously operated by: Smalley's Theaters Inc.
Functions: Live Music Venue
Previous Names: Smalley's Mt. Upton Theatre
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Articles about upstate New York theatre mogul William C. Smalley all agree: he got his start opening his first theatre in tiny Mt. Upton, N.Y. Thanksgiving 1913. (the standard story then claims he followed a year later by opening a theatre in miniscule Gilbertsville, which beggars belief)
Neither of these two theatres seem to have been a part of Smalley’s empire for long, and they do not figure in the large archive of material about the chain held by the NYSHA Research Library. Also, both towns are so small it is hard to visualize theatres lasting beyond the nickelodeon era.
However, an intriguing advertisement does appear in a January 1940 issue of the Amsterdam Daily Democrat, taken out by pioneering Western singer Dusty Miller & The Wranglers, advertising a show at the Mt. Upton Theatre (no Smalley’s). So it appears that the Mt. Upton venue did survive in some form, seemingly by doubling as a live music venue.
More information on this intriguing – and historic – theatre would be great to have. Does it still exist? A careful examination of Google maps in Mt. Upton reveals an intriguing small yellow wood frame building with a double door-sized entrance and what appear to be poster displays still in place on either side. The construction and appearance of the building is consistent with a low-budget small town theatre of the 1910’s.
The building is on Route 8 two doors south of the junction with Route 51, on the west side of the street. It is unknown if this was the theatre building, but the unusual layout, construction and appearance of this building is suggestive.
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