Empress Theatre

338 Virginia Street,
Vallejo, CA 94590

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Crest Theater

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Built in 1911, the Empress Theatre was a large 1,000 seat, two-tiered theater with gold-leafed clouds on the ceiling, red velvet seats and a pipe organ. It has been remodeled several times over the years and has been known as the Republic, Vallejo, Senator and Crest names before being renamed the Empress Theatre in 1978 when it was purchased by William Elliott. The theater closed sometime around 1989 for seismic retrofitting, etc. and never reopened.

The Empress Theatre was later purchased by Robert Litwin and Mel Gomez, then restored and reopened.

Contributed by Robin Plutchok

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

julescomedy on April 20, 2007 at 10:03 am

I will get over there and take some pictures, but you can probably find some articles on the new marquee that just went up. It’s painted on the outside and looks to actually be moving along. I was told it would be reopened the spring after I first moved to Vallejo. That was two years ago, but I recently read that they are scheduling a re-opening late spring of this year – that’s not too far away, and they just put up a brand new marquee a couple weeks ago. I will go shoot a picture when I have the time and post it. It’s a beautiful thing.

rbobstmckay on May 21, 2007 at 12:18 pm

The completion of a multi-million dollar retrofit and renovation is only weeks away and then, indeed, the Empress Theatre will be reopening. Several preview events are scheduled for late summer and fall, with full-time operation to resume around the first of the year. The reason for this delay is that once the contractor’s are finished, the operators still need to install and test all of the theatrical equipment. Then the theater will be ready for a mix of live events and art-house films.

For more information on the construction, restoration and for some contruction photos—including some great night pictures of the new marquee—check out the theater’s official site at www.empresstheatre.org

lajoan on March 31, 2008 at 3:00 pm

The Empress is once again open for the business. It has been beautifully renovated from top to bottom. We went there last weekend and had a great time. http://www.empresstheatre.org/

darquil on April 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I’ve posted information and photos from a recent visit here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 23, 2010 at 6:35 am

This page at the Empress Theatre’s official web site names the architect of the theater as William A. Jones.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

A few 2011 photo can be seen here, here, here and here.

VCAF on March 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

The Historic Empress Theatre is featuring live music every Wednesday Night. Theatre manager, Don Bassey is a very well respected musician, and Vallejoan is bringing a broad spectrum of live music to this very special venue.

The Wednesday Night Ramble on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays each month featuring Don Bassey and the North Bay All Stars and friends from all over the Bay Area and places beyond.

Soul Shine on the 2nd Wednesday Night of each month featuring Timm Walker and Groove Masters and friends from around the Bay Area. Sista Monica performed with the Groove Masters on March 20th.

Hot House Blues on the 4th Wednesday Night of each month.
Johnny Rawls will be here on March 27th.

Memorial Benefit Concert on Sunday, April 7th, 6:00 PM to raise funds for the family of the late John Seppala. Musicians playing on April 7: PHD’S The Real Imposters The Leo Virgil Jazz Trio Stephanie Teel The Rockin’ Horns The Rob Heart Trio ON2R Stef Burns

Special guests current and former members of: Huey Lewis & the News Tower of Power Santana Cold Blood Starship Pete Escovedo Carlos Reyes & Many more

This is an event not to miss and ticket proceeds benefit the family.

We are also currently raising dollars to purchase a new technology, State of the Art sound delivery and control system for the Empress. Tectonics Audio Labs and A.I.R. sound control system is in our future. Mixing historic with new technology. Come see what the Empress is all about. Vallejo’s Historic Theatre owned by the community, managed by the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation, and funded solely with patronage, sponsorships, and donations.

Sign up for our e-blast at: www.empresstheatre.org

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Here’s an addition to the timeline for this theater. It comes from the February 3, 1917, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“Vallejo, Cal. — The Vallejo theater, formerly the Republic, was opened late in December under the management of Bert Langley. The house has a gallery and can accommodate 1,100.”

bosscar on March 2, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Last year the theater was having Friday night movies and was a lot of fun but for some reason has stopped and I don’t see where any movies are playing there. It’s sad that a movie theater is only able to have “live” shows. They need to have a more robust movie schedule and start showing classic movies again.

GaryMeyer on September 12, 2015 at 1:41 am

I am proud to have developed the Empress business, marketing and programming plan for the city of Vallejo and am so proud of what was accomplished.

I worked at the family store , Meyers Jewelers on Saturdays and in the late afternoon I attended the “Crest” as a kid in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They played first run double features but the El Rey on Tennessee got the bigger films.

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