Explore Buffalo announces exciting August and September tours

Explore Buffalo has released its list of upcoming tours, including two Spotlight Tours, places of worship and a special City of Light Tour & Talk with author Lauren Belfer.Explore Buffalo has released its list of upcoming tours, including two Spotlight Tours, places of worship and a special City of Light Tour & Talk with author Lauren Belfer.

Explore Buffalo has released its list of upcoming tours, including two Spotlight Tours, places of worship and a special City of Light Tour & Talk with author Lauren Belfer.

Spotlight Tour: North Park Theatre
Date: Aug. 22 @ 6:30 p.m. Due to movie times, the tour begins promptly at 6:30 in the foyer.
Meet: 1428 Hertel Ave., Buffalo
Cost: General Admission $20, Explorer Pass $15

Legendary theater owner Michael Shea built an empire of neighborhood movie theaters throughout Western New York in the early 1900s. In 1920, Shea opened his North Park Theater on Hertel Avenue, which the Buffalo Evening Times declared “Buffalo’s Finest Neighborhood Theater.” With a neoclassical foyer and auditorium designed by Buffalo architect Henry Spann and murals by Pan-American Exposition painter Raphael Beck, the North Park Theater accomplished Shea’s vision of a theater setting that would lift the common man out of his daily routine as he watched his dreams come to life on screen. 

Over the course of the 20th century, plaster began to crumble and the theater underwent several modernization efforts that unfortunately hid many of the theater’s beautiful details, including the stained glass window above the marquee. In 2013, local attorney and businessman Tom Eoannou purchased the theater with the goal of bringing this neighborhood jewel back to life. The theater reopened in 2014 with long-hidden details such as the stained glass window revealed for the first time in many years. On this Spotlight tour, you will see up close the stunning results of this restoration that have made the North Park Theater once again a destination for movies that lifts the spirits of all who enter its doors. 

Space on this tour is limited, and reservations are required. Please arrive approximately 10 minutes early to check in so the tour can begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. This tour will be approximately 45 minutes in length. Interior photography is allowed.

Spotlight Tour: 59 Chapin Parkway
Date: Sept. 5 @ 6 & 8 p.m.
Meet: 59 Chapin Parkway, Buffalo
Cost: General Admission $25, Explorer Pass $20

Frederick Law Olmsted designed Chapin Parkway as part of his Buffalo park and parkway system, and it has long been one of the most beautiful streets in Buffalo. This Spotlight Tour will feature an interior tour of the home at 59 Chapin Parkway, which was built between 1899-1900 for George Clinton, the grandson of Dewitt Clinton.

The home features a full width open entry porch with an intricate spindlework balustrade. Once you enter the home, you will be taken back in time to the height of Buffalo’s prosperity. The current owner, Joseph Montante, has lovingly preserved and restored much of the original features of plasterwork, woodwork and bathroom fixtures. The interior has been decorated with period-appropriate antique furnishings that further lend additional character and history to the home. The tour will be led by Joe, who will tell of his efforts to restore and maintain this beautiful home.

Space on this tour is limited, and reservations are required. This tour is approximately 90 minutes in length. There will be two tour times available on Sept. 5, 6 and 8 p.m. Interior photography is not permitted on this tour.

Houses of Worship Tours

Temple Beth Zion & Westminster Presbyterian Church
Date: Aug. 14 @ 10 a.m. to noon
Meet: Temple Beth Zion parking lot, 805 Delaware Ave., Buffalo
Cost: General Admission $15, Student Admission $5, Explorer Pass Free

Buffalo houses of worship in the 19th and early 20th centuries served as neighborhood anchors for immigrant groups. Often they were built as campuses with a school and office building/rectory. Often, the buildings imitated European houses of worship and served as a cultural link to the immigrants’ past. The buildings were as grand as parishioners could afford.

The houses of worship in this series were chosen not only for the aesthetic beauty of each building, but also for the walking accessibility. Each building tour will take 45 minutes with 15 minutes allotted for walking.

In addition to the architecture and history of each building, focus will be placed on the stained glass windows which will be explained by guest docent Megan McElfresh, executive director of the Stained Glass Association of America, now headquartered in Buffalo. After touring Temple Beth Zion, guests will walk a short distance to tour Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Ave. 

Advance reservations are encouraged but not required for this tour. All credit card payments must be made in advance. Advance reservations with a credit card can be made online until the tour starting time. Cash or checks are accepted at the start of the tour. If you make an advance reservation, please print your confirmation email, or be prepared to show it on your phone. This tour is approximately two hours in length. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather as the tour will proceed rain or shine. Cameras are encouraged!

St. Joseph University Church and St. Andrew’s Church
Date: Aug. 28 @ 10 a.m. to noon
Meet: St. Joseph University Church, 3269 Main St., Buffalo
Cost: General Admission $15, Student $5, Explorer Pass Free

Buffalo houses of worship in the 19th and early 20th centuries served as neighborhood anchors for immigrant groups. Often they were built as campuses with a school and office building/rectory. Often, the buildings imitated European houses of worship and served as a cultural link to the immigrants’ past. The buildings were as grand as parishioners could afford.

The houses of worship in this series were chosen not only for the aesthetic beauty of each building, but also for the walking accessibility. Each building tour will take 45 minutes with 15 minutes allotted for walking.

In addition to the architecture and history of each building, focus will be placed on the stained glass windows which will be explained by guest docent Megan McElfresh, the executive director of the Stained Glass Association of America, now headquartered in Buffalo. After touring St. Joseph University Church, guests will walk a short distance to tour St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 3107 Main St. 

Advance reservations are encouraged but not required for this tour. All credit card payments must be made in advance. Advance reservations with a credit card can be made online until the tour starting time. Cash or checks are accepted at the start of the tour. If you make an advance reservation, please print your confirmation email, or be prepared to show it on your phone. This tour is approximately two hours in length. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather as the tour will proceed rain or shine. Cameras are encouraged!

City of Light Tour & Talk with Author Lauren Belfer
Date: Sept. 14 @ 1 p.m.
Meet: Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, 641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo
Cost: Tour & Talk: General Admission $75; Explorer Pass $70
Talk Only: General Admission $30; Explorer Pass $25

Join Explore Buffalo for a special opportunity to meet Lauren Belfer, author of the popular novel City of Light, set in Buffalo at the dawn of the 20th century. At 1 p.m. on Sept. 14, Belfer will join Explore Buffalo’s City of Light bus tour and narrate portions of the tour. Following the tour, at 5 p.m. at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, she will present an illustrated talk, “From Fact to Fiction: Reflections On Writing Three Historical Novels,” exploring her inspirations and explaining how she researched each of her novels. After the presentation, Belfer will be signing books and meeting guests. Talking Leaves Books will have all of her books available for sale at this event. Light refreshments will be provided by CRaVing, and a cash bar will be available. 

Space for this special opportunity is limited, and reservations are required. Tickets can be purchased for the 1 p.m. tour and 5 p.m. talk, or for the 5 p.m. talk only. All tickets include light refreshments provided by CRaVing at the TR Site.

Tour Guests: Please arrive at the TR Site by 12:45 p.m. so the tour can begin promptly at 1 p.m. The tour will return to the TR SIte at approximately 4 p.m. 

Talk Guests: Doors will open at the TR Site and you may check in beginning at 4 p.m. The talk will take place in the second floor gallery of the TR Site, which is fully wheelchair accessible. 

Parking: Parking will be available in the TR Site parking lot; please note that space in the lot is limited. Parking is also recommended on Delaware Avenue outside the TR Site, which is free on Saturdays.

About Lauren Belfer: Lauren grew up in Buffalo. Her debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel, an NPR Best Mystery, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her third novel, And After the Fire, received the National Jewish Book Award. She lives in New York City.

For reservations for all tours and events, please visit explorebuffalo.org or call (716) 245-3032. 




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