Webster Museum

Sawyer's Hall

The Webster Amusement Company

A early entertainment destination in Webster

by Carol Saylor

Sawyer’s Hall, built by the five Sawyer brothers — Alfred, George, Wilfred, Lester and Roy — opened in 1909 and became the home of The Webster Amusement Co.

Located at 31 North Ave., Beyond Cuts Hair Salon now occupies the space (but not the original building) in the village of Webster.

In the beginning, the Webster Amusement Co. showed movies and featured a roller skating rink.

Young and old visited the popular business, which led to the enlargement of the building the following year. (The photo here includes the addition to the original building.) The expanded building provided a larger skating area on the first floor.

Two bowling alleys and tables for billiards also were added and located in the basement. Electricity, just available in Webster, enabled the purchase of a Wurlitzer Band Organ. The mechanical organ played music from a paper roll (much like a piano roll) and added to the skating experience.

Roller Skate Patent

Movies, skating parties and sports activities used the same space. Chairs were removed and folded when a skating time or a basketball game was scheduled.

The movies were silent. A piano score was provided along with the film. Susie Wright Jones, Florence Northrup and Marion Sawyer Kelley played the piano. An old theater organ from the building may be seen at the Webster Museum.

The film machine was hand-cranked and consisted of several reels of film. Most of the movies were two reels in length, but a movie titled Tommy Gets His Sister Married was six reels long. During the time the reels were being changed, there was community singing by the movie-goers and local advertising on the screen. Serial movies, such as The Perils of Pauline, were shown on a weekly basis.

“News Reels” of the time were hand-written on glass slides. Sawyer’s Hall used a lantern slide projector. Many of the glass slides used between 1917 and 1919 encouraged movie-goers to purchase Liberty and Freedom Bonds to help finance America’s involvement in World War I.

From 1915 through 1925, the Webster High School basketball team played its games at Sawyer’s Hall. By that time, a balcony had been added to the hall. The balcony provided a good view of the game (except when play occurred beneath the balcony). The building was used as gym space for the high school students until the new high school (now Spry Middle School) was built on South Avenue.

The Sawyer family sold the building to Nick Markese in 1951, who operated the business as the Webster Bowling Hall. A roaring fire and flames, which engulfed several nearby buildings and threatened all of the eastern part of the village, destroyed the bowling hall on a windy night in November 1952.

Twenty-nine units of fire equipment from 13 companies worked through the night to prevent the fire from spreading. Because of their efforts, only minor damage occurred in many nearby homes and business locations. However, Sawyer Hall and the Webster Amusement Co. were gone forever.


The Mighty Morton is one of the last spectacular theater organs built for the silent movie era.

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The Royal Albert Hall organ explained by Richard Hills

The Mason & Hamlin organ style 431, "Sankey" organ, named for composer Ira D. Sankey. Similar to the organ on display at the museum.

Silent Films

Laurel and Hardy. The first and greatest pie fight in the movies from The Battle Of The Century 1928

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Harold Lloyd - Number, Please 1920


"The Automatic Pinspotter" | Omnibus With Alistair Cooke

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Pinsetters/Pinboys at Diamond Bowling Lanes! - Cumberland MD

Roller Skating

Charlie Chaplin - Modern Times - Roller Skating Scene

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Skating Carnival On South Brisbane Rink

Joy of Play
Joy of Play
Toys and Games

A look at the history of the toys and games that have helped shape how we play.

Happy Dan


n. [save and all.] A small pan inserted in a candlestick to save the ends of candles.

Randomly generated oft-forgotten words from Webster's 1828 dictionary.
Visit our Random Portmanteau page!

Webster Adventure Lab

The Webster Walkabout Adventure Lab

Webster History on foot

The Webster Walkabout Adventure Lab will take you on a walking tour of some of the historical locations in the Village of Webster. This adventure is kid-friendly and handicap-accessible. Please stay on sidewalks throughout your journey.

You will be guided on a walking tour of the Village of Webster, NY, visiting five sites of historic significance to the founding of the Village of Webster. Your walking tour will take you on a 1.5 mile walk and will take about an hour to complete.

In order to play the Adventure Lab, you need a smart phone, with the Adventure Lab mobile app installed. The app works with both iOS (iPhones) and Android phones. You must have a free account on geocaching.com and you must also have a data plan and cell service. The Adventure Lab mobile app is a multi-media, interactive app.

To open this adventure in the Adventure Lab mobile app, use the following URL: labs.geocaching.com/goto/WEBSTER

Once you complete the Adventure Lab, you will be given a code to unlock a special bonus puzzle geocache located at the Webster Museum, located at 18 Lapham Park, Webster, NY.

To find out more about geocaching, go to www.geocaching.com

A Virtual Tour

"Let's Explore Webster"

With Doreen and Laureen from the Webster Public Library and Sharon Pratt of the Webster Museum.

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Hamburger History

National Hamburger Month

...and National Hamburger Day is May 28th

OK, we may be a little biased, but there can't be too many cities with a tastier relationship with the hamburger than Rochester. Imagine heading out for a hamburger and only having the choice of McDonald's, Burger King or if you're lucky Wendy's. Here in Webster, we have Bill Gray's, Charlie's and when the bridge is open, Don's Original. Each restaurant with its own story and connection to the Webster community. Take a look at our little timeline of Rochester Hamburger history.

The Webster Basket Factory

Don Kittelberger
Behind the scenes at the Webster Museum (February 17, 2020)

Don Kittelberger who worked at the Webster Basket Factory for many years, was kind enough to stop by the Webster Museum to share some of his knowledge of baskets and the Webster Basket Factory with our museum volunteers.

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Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum

Our new nightly look, with thanks to Allan Electric. (Photos courtesy of Lynn Barton.)

World War Two

World War Two

Webster residents who never made it home.

The beginnings of a page honoring the all too numerous Webster residents who lost their lives fighting for our country during World War Two.

The Cunningham Automobile

100 years ago it was possible to buy an automobile that was built in Rochester, NY. Possible, but expensive. James Cunningham, Son and Company produced some of the most expensive vehicles available at the time. The Cunningham Automobile was a handmade, high performance vehicle that rivaled the likes of Rolls Royce.

Cunningham's clients included Cecil B. De Mille, George Eastman, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Marshall Field, William Randolph Hearst, Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford, and the Wrigley brothers.


Visitors Hours

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18 Lapham Park Webster, New York 14580 585.265.3308

Webster Museum