Empire Theatre

327 Court Street,
Pekin, IL 61554

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 5, 2014 at 2:25 pm

A booklet published in 1974 for Pekin’s sesquicentennial has this bit of information about the Empire Theatre: “The Empire Theater at 327 Court Street was built by the Fluegel family in the 1920’s. It was later operated by the Great States Theater chain of Chicago.”

As Anna Fluegel had the Pekin Theatre built in 1928, it’s likely that the smaller Empire Theatre was rebuilt earlier in the decade. Operation of both houses was taken over by Publix-Great States Theatres in 1937.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 28, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I believe that this is the theater ad that Paladin referred to.

On this page of the same book begins a brief history of Pekin’s theaters. It says that the first Empire Theatre was built in the 1850s on the same site as the later Empire theater. The original was a second-floor house above a dry goods store. After the Turner Opera House was built in 1890, the Empire declined and was eventually converted into a movie house.

The book indicates that the Empire Theatre that was operating in 1949 had replaced the original building, but doesn’t say when that happened.

Paladin
Paladin on October 1, 2010 at 9:10 pm

According to my mother’s memories the Empire was the theater in Pekin that mainly showed b westerns like Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey. A 1949 history of Pekin has an ad for the Empire Pekin and Rialto theaters in Pekin.