The State Tower Building, built in 1927 and designed by Thompson and Churchill of New York, is still the tallest building in Syracuse.  It was constructed on the site of the Bastable Theatre, which burned four years earlier.  The only major 20th century addition to Hanover Square, it is a fine example of the “Metropolitan” style of Art Deco; its forms arranged in “set-backs” with vertical stripes of windows and decorated panels to emphasize verticality.  Note also the characteristic stylized details in ceramics and brass.  This building was refurbished in honor of its 75th anniversary.

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This block of Hanover Square was known as the Bastable Block from 1893 due to its owner, Frederick Bastable. 

The Bastable Block

The Bastable Theater occupied the majority of the block and was, consistently, one of the top theaters in Syracuse.  The site of many famous performances and lectures, one of its greatest claims to fame happened on January 1st, 1898, when it was leased by Syracuse’s own 21 year old Sam Shubert.

A program from the Bastable Theater.

The Bastable was the very first in what eventually became an unmatched string of Shubert owned or managed theaters that comprised the largest theatrical empire the world has ever known. With his brothers, Lee and J.J., along with the financial backing, legal, business management, and artistic expertise of Syracuse employees and investors, Sam Shubert took on the theater capital of the world, in New York City, in 1900. 

At the time, the New York City theater district was located south of 35th Street.  The Shuberts concentrated on developing the area from 41st to 49th Streets, around a little square known as Longacre Square that we all know today as Time’s Square.  By the 1920’s, the Shuberts owned almost everything on 44th and 45th Streets from 8th Avenue to Broadway, creating the center of the famous Broadway Theater District of today. 

Sam Shubert

The Shubert Organization that they founded is still, by far, the largest theater owner on Broadway and the Foundation they established is one of the largest of its kind in the world.  To this day, nobody has produced more hits than the Shuberts.  And it all started right here on this spot with the Bastable Theater.