120 W. Main Street,
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On May 27, 1906, gay fanfare surrounded grand opening ceremonies for the new Empire Vaudeville Theater, a class act house that promised the best in stage entertainment.
A sweeping arched entryway was the focal point for the iron facade of the five story office structure in which the Empire Theater was situated. Interior detailing was of Art Nouveau styling, with plaster fruited vines that climbed across a barrel vaulted lobby. A shallow shelf balcony ran across auditorium rear, but the majority of the 1100 seats were ground floor level in a wide auditorium, framed in a series of exposed “tree branch” iron arches that vaulted over orchestra sections. These intertwined iron branches bore orange, red, and yellow light bulb fruit. Embroidered wisteria enhanced emerald-green valour stage drapery that dressed a steeply arched, plaster vined proscenium.
During the autumn of 1907 the Empire became a movie/vaude combo house, but by January, 1908, large display ads began touting “Something New! Something Different! ~ NO MOVING PICTURES!!!~”
By mid-1910 the Empire had slid down into a second run movie house that no longer bothered to advertise. Then, after the holiday season of 1912, the owner converted the Empire auditorium into what became Oklahoma City’s fanciest pool hall. Rechristend the Century Billiards Parlor, this thinly disguised gambling casino lasted up to the time the building was razed in 1971.
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