Empire Theatre

422 Barton Street East,
Hamilton, ON L8L 2Y6

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Rear  Ext 2008

This was a single screen auditorium with a balcony that still stands today as the Essence Banquet Centre on the corner of Barton Street East and Leeming Avenue.

It was built in the early 1920’s by Hamilton Theatre magnate Fred Guest who also owned four other cinema’s locally (The Playhouse, The Main, The Strand and his flagship The Delta), as well as one other (The Stanley Theatre) in Vancouver BC. Ironically the only one still intact is the cinema (now an arts centre) in BC. In the late 1960’s the space was twinned, the seats removed, and the floor flattened. It remains as a Banquet Hall for weddings and other events.

Contributed by Brian Morton

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

mortonbg on February 28, 2008 at 4:38 pm

A little more info. This was also known as the Italia Cinema from 1938 to 1969 when it closed.

There are photos at the Ont Archives of the exterior/interior.

TivFan on May 1, 2012 at 11:43 am

See an exterior photo of the Empire, as part of John Sebert’s “Glamorous Ghosts” at: www.hamiltonmagazine.com/sitepages/?aid. This was the first time I had seen a shot of this place. Comparing the photo and the street view, you can see the upper windows are gone and the railing (or decoration?) has been added to the roof edge.
I went to a yard sale in this neighborhood, and I got talking to a guy selling there, and I mentioned the Empire and he told me that the projection equipment was still in the building. It’s possible that it was too cumbersome to remove or was kept as a ‘novelty’. I don’t know if this is true, I’ve never checked…

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