The Buffalo Broadway Auditorium
Home to the Buffalo Majors Hockey Club
Prior to the Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo's Broadway Auditorium, located on Broadway between Nash and Milnor streets, was used for social gatherings and events including political and civil rallies, circuses, boxing, wrestling, and roller derby. The building began its life as the 65th regiment armory on September 5, 1898 and was converted to a civic gathering hall in 1910.
A sheet of artificial ice was spread on the floor of the Auditorium and it was officially opened for professional hockey on January 25, 1931 as home to the Buffalo Majors hockey club who played in the American Hockey Association (AHA). After a little over one season, fan apathy, combined with the team's inability to pay the rent or its players, prompted officials of the Broadway Auditorium to use the building as a full-time bowling center instead of hockey. The Buffalo Majors folded shortly afterward.
Local boxing legends like Hall-of-Famer Jimmy Slattery fought in front of thousands at the Broadway Auditorium. He was awarded the N.Y. Commission Light Heavyweight title when he beat Lou Scozza in 15 rounds on February 10, 1930. On March 28, 1937, the Hamid-Morton Shrine Circus was in town. One of the top acts featured Anton Barker (age 44) also known as "The Human Rocket". His act included being fired from a cannon while inside a flimsy break-away shell. Barker, also known as Capt. George Wernesch, was to travel a distance of 84 feet, dropping the enclosure in mid-air before reaching the net. Unfortunately, he only went 64 feet that day and struck the hard floor of the Broadway Auditorium, suffering a spine injury.
Today, the Broadway Auditorium still stands at 197 Broadway Ave., a shadow of her once majestic self. During the late 1940s, the City of Buffalo converted the building into a streets and sanitation department garage filled with snow plows, garbage trucks and street salt. Some of the original structure still stands, however the characteristic towers are long gone. Replaced with newer masonry and loading docks. The vast interior of the facility is dark and dirty. On what would have been the ice surface, now stands a two-story mountain of salt which is scooped-up by heavy machinery and dumped into snow plows.