Everyman Theatre

315 West Fayette Street,
Baltimore, MD 21201

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50sSNIPES on November 7, 2021 at 11:26 am

Edward Carter, the guy who fell 50 feet during construction of the Empire Theatre in July 1911, was later arrested and charged by the Baltimore Police Department while recovering from his injuries. He later pleaded guilty to the court that September 15th on an unknown degree of common assault, who sentenced him to 5 months in jail.

50sSNIPES on November 5, 2021 at 2:04 pm

The Empire (owned and operated by Mr. George W. Rife including his whole company with his name being the theater name) began construction during the middle of July 1911.

Shortly after the ground broke during the beginning of construction on July 15, 1911, one of the construction workers lost his balance and fell 50 feet from one of the floors to the sidewalk. He was identified as a colored man, 34-year-old Edward Carter of 1819 Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore. He was rushed to Mercy Hospital in a Western district patrol after receiving a broken jaw, lacerated chin, and a few other internal injuries.

The Empire was originally scheduled to open its doors on November 1, 1911, but was rescheduled and pushed to November 27, 1911, but it didn’t happen. Its opening date was then rescheduled again to its exact grand opening day on Christmas Day 1911 with Barney Gerald’s “Follies Of The Day”.

Information about the Empire goes as follows: The decorations as of 1911 were colored with mint green tint, embellished with gold, and the draperies were deep in a soft rose color and red for carpeting. The main auditorium stretches a wide proscenium arch, and an unobstructed depth of 55ft and has a capacity of 2,000 seats as of 1911 in leather seats, marking it the largest in Baltimore at the WWI era, although it originally supposed to have a capacity of 2,400 a month right after the theater began construction. There were separated areas which included the stage, dressing room, and stairs from the auditorium.

The Empire became the Palace on August 14, 1920 with James E. Cooper’s “Folly Town” as a burlesquer. The theater switched formats from back-and-forth with films and burlesquers.

After closing as a burlesquer in October 1937, the theater sat quiet, even throughout all of WWII. Although according to the Baltimore Sun, there are failed plans to erect the theater.

Exactly a year right after WWII had died in 1946, architects John Zink and Lucius White held its design to the Town and was built. With 450 seats being taken out from the original Empire theatre, the 1,550-capacity Town Theatre would later open its doors to the public on January 22, 1947 with Baltimore’s premiere of the Frank Capra classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” with no extras or short subjects.

rivest266 on February 11, 2017 at 10:02 am

2 screens on November 1st, 1985. No grand opening ad found.

rivest266 on February 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm

This opened as Town on January 22nd, 1947. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

pnelson on June 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Great facade and marquee. Interior must have been nice also. Pictures?

ejwhite on June 14, 2015 at 8:01 pm

My great grandfather worked on the renovation of the Town theater, Lucius R. White.

TheALAN on April 3, 2015 at 8:04 am

Why a photo of a decrepit 1991 Town Theatre? If a dated photo is to be shown, why not one when it was the Empire or Palace?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm

The 1952 photo of the Town Theatre in Boxoffice can now be seen at this link.

The web site of the Everyman Theatre is now saying that their new venue will be opened in the fall of this year. The picture of the restored facade on this page shows the name Everyman on the vertical sign, so apparently none of the house’s historic names will be brought back.

dick on January 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm

To the person who wrote in 2004 about Cinerama doing badly in Baltimore. Baltimore got on the bandwagon too late. 4 years too late. By the time it got to Baltimore it had already been ion D>C> & Philly many years before. We had a similiar experience here in the Boston area because it took a few years for Providence(50 miles) and Hartford(100 miles) to get Cinerama(3 strip). It did well in both venues but not as long as Boston. We then got Cinerama(70mm) in Worcester(45miles) and in Lawrence(35 miles). Did not do well. Boston did very well because it was in the big city, larger theatre and opened here 1st. Boston was the 5th Cinerama theatre(3 strip). Lasted from 1953 until the early seventies.

randytheicon on May 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

“She’s Gotta Have It” and “Daughter of Dracula.”

Oh, those funky J-F double-bills!!

Dramatrauma on April 9, 2010 at 1:08 pm

The Everyman Theater has up[dates regarding the renovations

Thnaks for the ‘86 photo ken, but I really have to wonder how they defined “newly renovated”.

I thought I knew most of Esther’s films but dont recall
“Skirts Ahoy”. LOL With a title like that Id hunt it down to watch with or without Esther.

kencmcintyre on January 30, 2010 at 3:58 pm

There is a photo of the Town in this June 1952 issue of Boxoffice magazine:

randytheicon on December 12, 2009 at 7:39 am

The Town is being converted into the new home for Everyman Theatre, with opening scheduled for 2011. This is great news!

Several weeks ago I got a very brief look at the lobby and auditorium. As you’d expect, the place is a mess. The ground-floor projection booth was open – two lamphouses still stood there, 19 years after the last picture was shown.

Coate on May 18, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Baltimore’s Cinerama exhibition history posted here.

bruceanthony on July 29, 2008 at 9:20 am

To bad more thought is not being done on what could be done with this theatre. Every time they have taken a movie palace and turned it into a small Black Box theatre it looks horrible. The theatre should be made to be more flexible larger seating for some shows and smaller seating for others. What a waste of money to turn it into just another Black Box theatre.brucec

EJD1984 on November 24, 2006 at 3:06 am

Everyman troupe going to west side
By J. Wynn Rousuck and Jamie Smith Hopkins
Baltimore Sun reporters
Originally published November 15, 2006

In a development that could further the transformation of downtown Baltimore’s west side from a neglected shopping district into a vibrant arts center, Everyman Theatre, a thriving regional troupe, will move into a vacant vaudeville house across from the restored Hippodrome.

Civic leaders say the shift into the Town Theatre – to be announced today – will build on the Hippodrome’s momentum, reviving a once-grand theater district. The development comes in the midst of improvements to the west side, which has added restaurants and more than 750 apartments in the past two years, a turnaround after the shopping district’s long slide.

The Town – which once played host to such stars as Mae West and Joe E. Brown – is the final parcel in Bank of America’s Centerpoint project, a major mixed-use complex of retail and 392 apartments that wraps around the Town. Bank of America’s donation of the Town to Everyman will be made public at a celebration this afternoon of the completion of Centerpoint.

Everyman’s renovation of the 95-year-old Town is projected to be completed in fall 2009 at a cost of $11.5 million. It follows the $62 million restoration of the Hippodrome, which reopened in February 2004.

Hippodrome Executive Director Marks Chowning welcomes the prospect of having Everyman as a neighbor. “[it’s] going to put another critical mass of bodies down there that will help support other businesses, restaurants and retail, or whatever theaters may come down the pike,” he said.

The west-side location could be a boon for Everyman, a professional company that has built a solid reputation in Baltimore over the past 16 years with such sold-out productions as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Proof in 2004 and this season’s premiere of The Cone Sister.

“I love the idea that this theater would only be three blocks from the ballparks and the Inner Harbor. It would give tourists another cultural attraction within walking distance of their hotels,” said Vincent M. Lancisi, Everyman’s founder and artistic director. “I feel like Everyman has not tapped into the visitors to Baltimore, partly because of our location.”

Everyman hopes to help stimulate growth on the west side, as it did in the Charles North neighborhood. Lancisi said the block was 80 percent vacant – even The Charles Theatre was dark between owners – when Everyman moved into its present home at 1727 N. Charles St. in 1994.

“Over the past 12 years we’ve enjoyed a great renaissance in that block, and I’d like to think Everyman played a significant role in that,” he said.

West-side business and development groups are looking forward to the impact the theater could have on the area.
“Everyman is such a beloved institution and has quickly developed very strong roots in the community, and to have them plant themselves on Fayette Street just bodes very well for the future,” said Ronald Kreitner, executive director of WestSide Renaissance Inc., a nonprofit that leads efforts to redevelop the neighborhood.

The Town, whose historic facade fronts on Fayette Street, will be given a secondary entrance on Eutaw, facing the Hippodrome. Everyman expects to have 250 to 300 seats; the Hippodrome has 2,250.

“You’ve got Broadway on one side of the street and off-Broadway on the other. We are not competitors in any sense; we will feed off each other,” Lancisi said.

Valued at $1.8 million, the Town is being sold to Everyman for $1. Bank of America’s decision to essentially donate the theater “was an entirely appropriate use” for the Town, said Bill Couper, the bank’s mid-Atlantic president. “Here was an organization that could really make something of it. … It would add to the neighborhood in a way that would complement what’s already there in the Hippodrome.”

The bank has been the largest corporate sponsor of the theater’s education programs for the past decade and has an officer on Everyman’s board.

Everyman has outgrown its Charles Street venue, a former bowling alley. “We will go from the little theater that could to a mid-sized theater with a significant regional reputation,” said Lancisi. “The facility will give Everyman the tools it needs to ramp up its production values. It will allow the artists the technology and support that they need to do their best work."
Everyman, whose current flexible space can hold 170 to 200 patrons, has been experiencing growing pains for several seasons, during which its shows have played to 92 percent capacity. A bid to move into the vacated Chesapeake Restaurant at the southeast corner of the block was turned down by the city last year.

But a desire for more seats is only part of Everyman’s needs. The theater has never had a rehearsal hall, costume or prop shops, or classrooms – all of which will be built into the Town renovation. Eventually, Everyman hopes to have a second theater within the Town.

A brief tour of the abandoned building revealed evidence of its most recent incarnation as twin movie theaters – the concession stands, upstairs screen and theater seats are still intact, albeit thick with cobwebs. Despite the elegant facade, however, any remnant of the interior’s nearly century-old splendor is long gone.

“There is nothing architecturally or historically worth saving in the interior,” said Lancisi. “We’re going to go in and sculpt it out so you basically have a big rectangular box, and we will insert intimate spaces within it.”

West-side businesses could use the boost that Everyman’s patrons might provide. Next door to the Town, at Maggie Moore’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, manager Mick MacEoin said the area has been rejuvenated in the 16 months since he started working there – but he had plenty of time to talk about it during a recent lunch hour because the crowd was thin.

“More businesses coming in,” he said when asked what he’d like to see on the west side. “More businesses that will bring more people to the area. … Most of our business comes from the Hippodrome, the University of Maryland and Centerpoint.”

Nearby is the languishing “superblock,” targeted for redevelopment but held up by disputes between the city and a key property owner. City officials say the six-block area, which runs along Fayette Street to the south and as far west as Howard Street, is critical to west-side revitalization.

But there are signs of progress, beginning with the Hippodrome and Centerpoint, which is for sale now that development is complete. Across the street from the Town, a Philadelphia firm has scaffolding up for redevelopment work on a former Hecht’s department store annex. The University of Maryland, Baltimore, just put out a request for bids on a long-empty bank building that could be transformed into a hotel.

“It was a very vibrant community in the past,” said Matthew Kachura, a research analyst at the Jacob France Institute, the University of Baltimore’s economic research center. “It maybe hasn’t reached its potential yet, but it’s getting there.”

Said Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership: “If one looks back just three, four years ago and sees the progress that’s been made in that area, it’s almost staggering.”

Everyman’s lease at 1727 N. Charles has been extended for the three years it will take to renovate the Town, whose costs are expected to be met by a capital campaign.

The theater’s departure from the Charles North neighborhood will be a setback for that arts district, but only a temporary one, predicted M.J. “Jay” Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s economic development arm. “There are people looking at serious investments in that area,” he said.

Lancisi hopes another theater will occupy Everyman’s space. “I would hate to see a performing arts component not in the arts and entertainment district,” he said.

rlvjr on October 14, 2006 at 6:50 pm

Betcha can’t find the TOWN THEATRE since the front is boarded up flat and the marquee is gone. When attending the HIPPODROME, take a minute and look across the street. There’s a restaurant in a historic bank building and a wide alley to the right of it. Look down the alley and you’ll see the bricks of the side wall of the TOWN. Beyond that wall, inside, there’s a real Cinema Treasure.

SteveR on October 20, 2005 at 6:11 pm

The theatre is being marketed by the Downtown Partnership as retail space; there is reportedly very little left of the interior. However, I would like to try and do something about this. If anyone would like to help, please get in touch with me.

rlvjr on October 2, 2005 at 7:03 pm

If you look for the TOWN THEATER in Baltimore check the address and LOOK HARD. It doesn’t look anymore like the above photo. The front is completely flat and boarded up. Although, as noted above, I took Midge here on our date, I’ve driven by the front entrance 50 times without recognizing the site. Hopefully though, the well-sealed interior remains to be saved.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 21, 2005 at 11:51 pm

The original architects of the Empire Theatre were Otto Simonson of Baltimore and W.H. McElfatrick of New York. The original seating capacity was 2,400 and it opened as a burlseque and vaudeville theatre on 25th December 1911 with “Follies of the Day”.

The current Art Moderne interior was a re-model in 1946 by architects John J. Zink and Lucius R. White and it re-opened as the Town Theatre on 22nd January 1947 with James Stewart attending ‘in person’ a premier screening of “It’s A Wonderful Life”

rlvjr on July 21, 2005 at 7:19 pm

Fondly remembering taking Midge here for Alfred Hitchcock’s TORN CURTAIN. Even though I live south of DC, we still return to Baltimore now that the HIPPODROME reopened. We come for about 8 of their shows a year. The HIPPODROME has very strong box office support. If the TOWN were re-opened, there would be public support, and downtown Baltimore has changed severely for the better the past 2 decades.

RobertR on March 3, 2005 at 2:43 pm

What a great old facade and marquee. The facade reminds me of the late great Rivoli.