Empire Theatre

158 South State Street,
Salt Lake City, UT

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The Empire, which opened in 1908, was the first movie theater in Salt Lake. The theater was located at 158 South State, next to the Gem Theater and down the street from the Promised Valley Playhouse. The building was built in 1906, so the theater may have been a converted store.

The theater was founded by Harry S. Rand, who owned a chain of hotels until he lost much of his fortune in the San Francisco’s Fire of 1906. In 1908, Mr. Rand started a chain of theaters in Salt Lake and Denver. He personally managed the Empire theater in Salt Lake until 1916 and then turned the lease over to W. E. Shipley.

The Empire installed a sound system in 1930, but the theater did not make the transition to widescreen films in the early 1950s, due to its long and narrow interior. W. E. Shipley retired in 1950, and the Empire closed circa 1955.

The building became Scheibner’s Health Food Store and was later demolished.

Contributed by Grant Smith

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

William on December 6, 2003 at 3:54 pm

The Empire Theatre seated 300 people.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 16, 2008 at 10:44 pm

The closing of the Empire Theatre was noted in an item in the July 23, 1955, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.

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