The Alhambra, Southtowns "Hot Spot"
The Alhambra was a popular night spot during the 1940's for the dance crowd. It had the right location on the lakefront at the
Old Lake Shore Road/Route 5 traffic circle in Athol Springs. Live dance bands performed there as part of their circuit that
included the Bon Ton (Electric and Ridge Road, Lackawanna), the Club Como (South Buffalo), Frank's Casanova (Bailey and
East Ferry, Buffalo), Mary Rogers', the Havana Casino (Niagara Street, Buffalo), and Club Moonglow (William& Michigan, Buffalo).
In addition to the Alhambra, the traffic circle also was the site of Foit's, the Circle Inn, and Arp's, each an evening's good time.
In the post-World War II era, dance clubs decreased in popularity and the Alhambra, like other night clubs, began to feature
exotic dancers and strippers in an attempt to make money. One contemporary remembers one "Ann 'Bang-Bang' Arbor"
on the bill at the Alhambra. After that venture, the building was used as a summer theater for a time. In 1954, it saw a new life
as a skating rink when, on April 14, it burned after closing at 11 p.m.
Four-year old Ed Hoak, living next door (see Hoak's Restaurant at left in the 2005 photo) was awakened by the red glow.
With the Alhambra located only a small parking lot away (see the open area right center above), young Ed was afraid the
flames were going to set fire to his house. He was distracted from these worries, however, by the sight of a fire pumper sliding
into Lake Erie as volunteer firefighters were attempting to draw lake water for the firefighting efforts. The firemen sputtered and
swore as they emerged from the frigid waters in the middle of the night.
The steel frame and stucco building was a complete loss.
Today, only part of the foundation is visible at the water's edge.
Special thanks to Ruth Cullen, staff member of the Lackawanna
Public Library, for helping place the Alhambra, and to
Ed Hoak of Hoak's Restaurant on Old Lake Shore Road for sharing his memories.
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