Varsity / Uptown Theatre


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Photo credit: Karl Josker, Mike Puma ViewsOfBuffalo, and University Heights Tool Library


3163 Bailey Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14215
SBL: 90.25-1-34.1
University Council District
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Ibraham Cisse, founder of the Bailey Avenue Business Association (BBA)
WESTMINSTER FOUNDATION per City of Buffalo Property Information
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Physical Description

Two story brick building with 630 seat theater and various commercial office spaces.

Current Condition

In use while undergoing renovations. The interior has been renovated, the owner hopes to remove the exterior dry-vit soon.


  • 1926 - Varsity Theatre
  • Circle Arts Theater / Capri Arts Theater
  • New Palace Theater
  • Uptown Theatre
  • From BuffaloAH: "In early 1962 Fred Keller leased the theatre [the Circle Theater at 446 Connecticut Street] and renamed it the Circle Arts, and, as the new name implied, he specialized in European films. A year or so later he lost the lease and moved to the Varsity Theatre on Bailey and took the Circle Arts name with him."

Recent Events and Actions Taken

  • 2010 - Abraham Cisse purchases building for $135,000, and moves his computer business into one of the storefronts
    • According to the Buffalo News, as of 2014, Cisse has spent an additional $85,000 in roofing and additional repairs
    • Future plans include theater space for school functions and live entertainment, along with a possible Subway restaurant in one of the storefronts.
  • August 2013 - Volunteer clean-up co-sponsored by BYP, the University Heights Tool Library, and Bailey Business Association
  • October 2013 - University Heights Tool Library organizes second community clean-up event at the theatre
  • February 2014 - University District Community Development Association and Uptown Theatre awarded a $150,000 grant from NYS to rehabilitate the Bailey Avenue theatre
    • "The grant will go toward installing new heating and cooling systems, insulation, energy-efficient doors and upgraded plumbing. It also will be used for interior painting, repairing and refinishing the stage floor, floor coverings, stage curtains, refurbishing the marble lobby, ornate plaster repairs and fire and safety updates." Buffalo News
  • February 2016 - Grand Opening held for Varsity Theatre
  • February 2018 - Owner Ibraham Cisse plans to restore the 1920s/1930s look of the facade, removing the hideous Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) added in the late 90s. "I want the community to have a very nice venue that they can be proud of and call their own, where they can go and enjoy themselves, where the money will stay in the community, and create more businesses and jobs in the community.” Buffalo Rising

Other Pertinent Facts


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Added 2014-02-21 • Last changed 2018-03-21