Alleyway Theatre is located in Buffalo, New York’s Theatre Historic District. Constructed in 1941 by Central Greyhound Lines, the building served for decades as the city’s primary bus depot. It is one of the many terminals designed by nationally prominent architect William S. Arrasmith of Louisville who created over one hundred stations for Greyhound in the late thirties and early forties.
The Alleyway Building is one of Buffalo’s most prominent examples of the Art Moderne style. The streamlined two story structure boasts the important features which defined the work of W. S. Arrasmith including round windows, curved wall surfaces, stainless steel and aluminum alloy trimmings, terrazzo floors, limestone façade, and exterior surfaces of glazed tile. This building is one of only a handful of Mr. Arrasmith’s creations which is still standing.
Greyhound moved to new facilities in the late seventies. During the summer of 1979 the depot was used by Metro Goldwyn Mayer in connection with the film “Hide In Plain Sight”. On June 9, 1979 the City of Buffalo announced that it would purchase the depot from Greyhound Corporation for $50,000, and renovate a portion of the building as a police station. In July, 1983 the Buffalo Theatre Collective began leasing other space within the building from the City with plans to develop a theatre which opened as Alleyway Theatre on December 5, l985. On August 8, 1985 the alley that connects Main and Pearl Streets along the building’s South side was dedicated as “Curtain Up! Alley.”
The construction of a new police precinct house resulted in the departure of police from the building in 2000. Alleyway Theatre Incorporated took full occupancy of the 33,000 sq. ft. building in April, 2001 and immediately began repairs. The project to renovate the building and restore its façade and important interior Art Moderne features began in January, 2003. The $1.5 million adaptive re-use project resulted in a theatre facility that includes a ninety-nine seat black box style theatre, a seventy seat cabaret theatre, a spacious lobby with grand stair case, administrative offices, rehearsal halls, scenery and costume shops, dressing rooms, an exhibit gallery and a conference room. Architects for the renovation project were Dominic Palmisano and Sandy Edelman of Palmisano Architecture And Design.
The facility celebrated its grand re-opening on September 14, 2005.
Our Building’s Lineage
Greyhound bus terminals represented the democratic potential of American mobility. In towns, large and small, the galloping canine promised a ticket for anyone overcome by wanderlust. The depots also offered a meal, a haircut, a shoeshine, a magazine, and long benches for travelers waiting for the next boarding. Pretty much everyone in the 1940’s and 1950’s spent some time in a bus terminal.
The renowned Greyhound architect W. S. Arrasmith drew from Moderne motifs such as sweeping curves, porthole windows, and towering signage designed for the roving eye of the automobilist. Inexpensive motion and fluidity were the promise of Greyhound’s streamlined design.
You can still find a few Greyhound depots left standing, and fewer still that have been restored, but to recall their heyday, you must turn to the images of photographs, pamphlets, and postcards.