Emery Theater

1112 Walnut Street,
Cincinnati, OH 45210

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The Emery Theater was built in 1912 as the auditorium for the Ohio Military Institute building, a trade school. From 1978 until 1999 the American Theatre Organ Society ran silent and sound films here.

Prior to its film years, the Emery was home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1912 until they moved to the Music Hall in 1936. On the Emery’s stage over the years appereared Russian ballet dancer Nijinsky, actresses Bette Davis and Katherine Cornell and composer George Gershwin, who played his famous “Rhapsody in Blue” with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra shortly after he had premiered it at Carnegie Hall in New York.

The theater, which is now closed, is owned by the University of Cincinnati.

The Wurlitzer Organ from the RKO Albee Theater (1927-1974) was moved to the Emery Theater in 1969 and totally rebuilt in the space of eight years. The organ pipes were placed on the rear portion of the stage and for the next twenty years silent, sound, and 3D films were shown on the weekends. The original seating of 2,200 was reduced to 1,360 by closing the second balcony to the public.

The architect for the Emery was Harvey Hannaford of the famous architectural firm of Samuel Hannaford & Sons, which also designed the 1878 Music Hall,1908 Memorial Hall, Cincinnati City Hall and many other impressive structures in Cincinnati.

Contributed by hanksykes

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 3, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Here is an article detailing the history of the Emery:
http://tinyurl.com/6anfz8

hanksykes
hanksykes on August 16, 2008 at 10:40 am

Having recently(like July 2008) viewed the interior of the Emery it amazes me that very little decay has occured since the Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society left the theater with their Wurlitzer in late 1999. A local Cincinnati volunteer group called,Give Back Cincinnati, did a one day sweep up, brass polishing, and seat vacuuming tidy up job there in July 2008, which make the venue more presentable. No further plans have been announced for The Emery Th. New signs which carry a short history of this theater have been placed in the facade lobby doors and windows.

hanksykes
hanksykes on December 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

The l927 Wurlitzer organ from the Albee Th.,moved to the Emery Th.in 1969 where it took 8 years for volunteers of Ohio Valley Chapter of American Theater Organ Society to rebuild it and operate it for twenty plus years as a movie and stage show and concert venue. After ten years of storage and reconstruction the Wurlitzer has a new home in the Cincinnati Music Ballroom where its premiere concert took place Nov.28,2009 with 700 ticket holders reveling in its sounds and looks. The organ now has a grand piano added to its sound choices.

hanksykes
hanksykes on April 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm

I should have added that the new home of the Albee/Emery Wurlitzer Organ is in Cincinnati"s Music Hall Ballroom located on Elm St.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on July 9, 2010 at 1:58 am

There are six pictures of the Emery here: scan down to see them: View link

hanksykes
hanksykes on July 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Hello ,just a slight correction
about one of the 6 pictures listed on the (cincinnatis-forgotten-theatres.html) at the Emery Th. the shot showing what is refered to as (mechanical levers) were not used to controll the curtains, but that is an unconnected lighting switchboard which was rebuilt by the (late Lyman Brenneman) to controll all the lighting above the stage as well as balcony spots and house lights. The curtain controll motor was on a seperate wall and the motion picture screen was flown to the fly gallery using a motor on the opposite side of the stage. The Picture Screen is probably still high above in the fly gallery on a heavy pipe frame,however the motor that raised it has been disabled. I know some of this info from having volunteered at the Emery Th. for 14 years and stage managed some of the shows useing that lighting switchboard to accomodate the performances.

SwankyJohn
SwankyJohn on August 6, 2010 at 8:44 am

Cincinnati’s last great theater. During the early 80’s I got to see some wonderful movies through the weekend series. So much of Cincinnati’s downtown area has been flushed right down the toilet by thoughtless city planners and developers. Let’s hope the Emery can beat the odds and be saved.

hanksykes
hanksykes on April 30, 2012 at 4:18 am

There are current events that happen at Emery Th. as a turnaround is attempting to take this venue into the 21 Centuryas a vital performing space.

hanksykes
hanksykes on December 16, 2013 at 6:03 am

currently the Emery Theater is inactive pending a law suit against the university of Cincinnati which comes up in Feb 2014.

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