Category Archives: Buildings

Who killed Name Brand Deals?

Name Brand Deals, the Oneida-owned enterprise that moved in to the spiritual space of the old Genesee Theater (I refuse to talk about Pep Boys any more), shut its doors recently. I’m not surprised. Even for a discount outlet, the place was a real dump. I went in there once and it made a barn sale look like Neiman Marcus.

Anyhow, I’m mentioning this partly to draw attention to a new comment I’ve received on the old Who killed the Genesee? thread. I’ve reprinted the comment below.

While researching for the Kallet Genesee page at Cinema Treasures, I came across a couple of bits of information not mentioned above that might interest you. The April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine published a rendering of the proposed Genesee Theatre by its architect, Michael J. DeAngelis. Construction began later that year. Albanese Brothers built the building, and it was operated under lease by Kallet Theatres.

I’ve been unable to find the exact opening date for the Genesee, but the March 14 issue of Boxoffice said that the theater had recently opened.

Michael DeAngelis was a Rochester architect who designed many theaters from the 1920s into the 1950s, some as far away as Florida, though I’ve been able to track down the names of only a few. His page at Cinema Treasures currently lists a mere dozen.

I’ve been unable to find out anything about Albanese Brothers, but it’s likely that they were a local firm of builders and developers in Syracuse.

Scans of Boxoffice Magazine and its predecessors are currently available at, and there are many articles and brief items about upstate New York theaters, some going back to the mid-1920s. If you’re interested in the subject this is a good place to search for information about it. I’ve found it easier to search through Google than through Issuu’s own search box, though.

–Joe Vogel

If I was leader of the free universe and had a zillion dollars, I would buy the Genesee Theater space, rebuild the theater and show nothing but quality sci-fi from all film eras, starting with Forbidden Planet, maybe doing it Alamo Drafthouse style.

UPDATE: On being over…

Last June, I made note of a statement by Rem Koolhaas…

Famous Architect Rem Koolhaas is disappointed with American cities:

“Don’t tell anyone… but the 20th-century city is over. It has nothing new to teach us anymore. Our job is simply to maintain it.”

Today: Unfinished 40-story Beijing hotel designed by Koolhaas goes up in flames in a mere 20 minutes:

Yo, Rem! Maybe the 20th century city could teach you something about not designing perfect firetraps. (What the heck did they use for the framework, magnesium?)

(Rest of original post below the flip)

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Unfinished business

This stunning panoramic photo of the famous cathedral at Cologne, Germany prompted me to look it up on Wikipedia and find out when it was built. I assumed it was built in the Middle Ages. Not quite right. It was begun in 1248, worked on for about 200 years (as cathedrals often were in those days)… but work on it stopped in the 15th century. It wasn’t until 1842 that the Prussian government, having discovered the original medieval plans (and for its own nationalistic reasons), decided to finish the work, which was completed in 1880 — 632 years after the project started.

As someone who has a tendency to start projects, drop them, and then return and finally complete them months or even years later, I find this story fascinating. Sadly, I think we live in a particular time and culture where we receive the triumphalist message that “Everything has already been completed and achieved materially and socially; all that remains are just tweaks and minor improvements.” (The ever-quotable Walter Brueggemann has lots to say in response to that.) We tend to talk a lot about “restoring and revitalizing” in Syracuse and other local communities, but this story makes me wonder what unfinished work remains around here. Not just architectural, of course (is there any besides Carousel?) but other kinds. I suppose the recently announced “100% Literacy” effort for Onondaga County is an example of taking up unfinished work.

The house that love tore down?

Okay, that’s inflammatory. But just a quick word on the whole Ronald McDonald House thing… as of this morning, WSYR’s take on the affair (on their news website) was:

New Ronald McDonald House Plans Hit Snag
A charity that provides a place for out-of-town parents to stay while their kids are in the hospital wants to expand. However, city lawmakers are forcing the Ronald McDonald house to wait longer to put its plan in motion.

Sounds a little one-sided. No acknowledgement whatsoever of legitimate preservation issues or shades of gray. No comments from anyone not connected with Ronald McDonald House, either. (More thought was put into the story about the Smurfs?)