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In 2001, Paul Finnican happened by one of America’s grand old theaters. The place hadn’t shown a movie in over 30 years, but maintained its golden-age charm. It’s hard to see one of these places and not jump to fantasies of what it must’ve been and what it could be now. The difference with Paul is that he didn’t let go of that inspiration. He took it upon himself to buy and restore the century-old theater, growing it into a world-class performance destination. Paul talks about that journey and the future of small southern towns. He explains the importance of venues in revitalizing towns and why the time is right for historic spaces to thrive.

The Sylvia Theater was opened in 1935, but the space has been around since 1903. It was named after the owner’s daughter, Sylvia Fleming. It closed its doors in 1968 and went dormant. It was eventually replaced by a hardware store, then a computer teacher’s supply store.


Paul is originally from Long Island, NY. He moved to the area in 1992 and began working in real estate. It was his passion for music, being a singer-songwriter that drew him to the Sylvia while in York for a business meeting.

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Sylvia Theater
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