Empire Theatre

Georgia Avenue SW and Crew Street,
Atlanta, GA 30315

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Empire Theatre

The Empire Theatre was opened March 19, 1928 with “The Cohen’s and Kelly’s in Paris”. The same firm who did the Erlanger Theatre allegedly designed it. It was closed in the 1950’s and demolished in the mid-1960’s.

Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Don K.
Don K. on March 13, 2008 at 10:10 am

I may have somewhat exaggerated the rate of change. If so, my apologies. However, by the time the area was cleared in the 1960’s to make way for the Fulton County Stadium, it had declined considerably. It was adjacent to the working class neighborhood along Capitol Avenue where it intersected with Memorial Drive and Georgia Avenue. The urban renewal project of the the ‘60’s was regarded as progress at that time.

markp
markp on March 13, 2008 at 10:22 am

Oh yes, you had to love those urban renewal projects of the 60’s. Just look at how many theatres were lost in New York City because of it.

Don K.
Don K. on March 14, 2008 at 10:42 am

Hope you didn’t miss the note of irony in my previous comment. The theaters that were lost in the urban renewal projects of the 1960’s were part of the erosion of the basic character of American communities in that era. Today. we seem to live in an age characterized by Walmart, Starbucks, and multplexes. Cities and towns across the country seem to have taken on a sameness that is not only boring, but rather depressing.

Having lived in New York City for a number of years, I regret the fact that I didn’t get to see the prime years of the Broadway theater district. Native New Yorkers told me that you could practically trace the decline of the Broadway district to the demolition of the Roxy Theater in 1960. So, I never got to attend the Roxy, the Capitol, or the Paramount. The Broadway that I encountered in the 1970’s was seedy and really depressing.

Atlanta suffered a somewhat similar fate. As the city rushed toward unrestricted growth, a great deal of the character of the community was swept away. It still amazes me that the people of Atlanta actually succeeded in saving the Fox Theater. Some of the neighborhoods in Atlanta, such as Little Five Points, still retain a certain charm. That quality is immeasurably enhanced by the fact the two of the theaters in Little Five Points have been preserved

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2015 at 12:58 am

In January, 1928, Motion Picture News noted that the Empire Theatre, then under construction, would be operated by Neighborhood Theatres, the regional Universal Pictures subsidiary partly owned by Oscar Oldknow.

agnesbry
agnesbry on January 23, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Hi, I remember the Empire theatre, in fact, the reason I am on this site because. I am writing a piece about the time my father had walked my brothers and me too the Empire theatre. This was doing the time, that Black Folk could only sit in the loft of the theatre, same as it was at the Fox, downtown Atlanta. Late 50’s & early sixties. The area wasn’t a slum back then, in fact lots of Jewish families lived in this area. There was the 5 and dime, and H&H Green stores across the street. Georgia avenue had lots of small stores. Hardware and grocery stores. The area later was given the name Summerhill. Take it from the strawberry ice cream was the best, funny this the was shape like a block.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 24, 2016 at 2:18 am

agnesbry: I think the block-shaped ice cream you mentioned must have the same kind that was sold at the concession stand in the neighborhood theater I attended in southern California in the 1950s. It came in a cardboard package about two inches square, and the concession stand attendant would peel off the package and stick the block of ice cream into a regular ice cream cone, with one corner down. You had to be careful with the first few licks or you could dislodge the block of ice cream and it would fall in your lap. I had completely forgotten about that ice cream. Thanks for reminding me of it.

PlazaChris
PlazaChris on October 21, 2018 at 5:50 am

I don’t believe it was demolished. Can someone else check the map location? While certainly the marquee is gone, the building on that site looks like it used to be a movie theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 21, 2018 at 9:17 am

PlazaChris: Google Maps' pin icon shows this theater at the corner of Georgia Avenue at Fraser Street, but if you look at the ad for the 1928 grand opening on our photos page it says the Empire was on Georgia Avenue at Crew Street. Crew was two blocks west of Fraser. We probably just have the wrong address for the theater. The Empire’s site is under part of the Georgia State Stadium project, and the intersection itself doesn’t even exist anymore. I don’t know what the building at Georgia and Fraser used to be, but it wasn’t the Empire Theatre.

JohnnyC.
JohnnyC. on October 21, 2018 at 4:14 pm

The complimentary ticket in the photo section gives an address of 42 Georgia Ave. SW. Google will map that address to 42 Georgia Ave. SE. Perhaps there was a Georgia Ave. SW at one time. The 1951 film daily also gives an address of 42 Georgia Ave. SW. for the Empire theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 21, 2018 at 6:29 pm

It looks like Hank Aaron Drive is the dividing line between SW and SE numbers. Georgia Avenue now makes that curve between Hank Aaron and Pollard Boulevard, where it once ran straight, crossing Crew Street midway between them. 42 Georgia Avenue SW was undoubtedly the correct address, but when you search for it on Google maps it defaults to the 42 Georgia SE location because the SW address no longer exists.

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