Empress Theatre

6226 S. Halsted Street,
Chicago, IL 60621

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EMPRESS Theatre; Chicago, Illinois.

The Empress Theatre opened in 1913, located in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, one of a handful of theatres in the South Halsted Street and 63rd Street business district, including the Englewood Theatre, National (Ace) Theatre and Stratford Theatre. The architect was J.E.O. Pridmore with George Lesley Rapp of architectural firm Rapp & Rapp.

Originally a legitimate theatre, it later turned to vaudeville and finally switched over to movies by the 1920’s, and it would remain a movie house until closing in the 1970’s.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

Englewood on September 13, 2007 at 8:44 pm

From the Chicago Tribune, January 20, 1904, in a composite story about theaters in Chicago coming up to code, there is mention of an Avenue Theater. Anyone ever heard of this theater in Englewood? Here is the story:

If It Must Come Under Class 5 Management May Decide Not to Reopen

The Avenue theater at 6237 Halsted street may not reopen if the contention of its management that the building is not in “class5” is overruled. The seating capacity of the house is 557. It lacks a steel curtain, sprinklers, a brick proscenium wall, fluid pipes, fire alarms, sandpipes, and fireproofed staging. Three months would be required to make these and other needed improvements.

Sounds real close to the Empress, the massive address changing of 1908 notwithstanding.

hanksykes on November 27, 2007 at 3:59 pm

I wonder if the Empress Theater was originally owned by the Sullivan and Considine nation burleskque chain, as all of their theaters were named Empress across the country.

Englewood on November 28, 2007 at 1:03 pm

To Bryan Krefft:

You are correct. I researched it a little more and found that this theater’s first name was the Avenue Theater. (See my posting for today, November 28, 2007.) I should have seen it wasn’t the Empress just by the address: the Empress was on the west side of Halsted Street with an even-numbered address, while the Avenue had an odd-number address.

Englewood on October 8, 2008 at 10:08 am

From a website I ran into by chance, there is mention of a rather prominent painter (for the time) commissioned to do murals at the Empress Theatre. His name was Edgar Payne. The website address is:

It’s worth a look.

(I don’t remember seeing any murals at the Empress but I was a kid who kept his eye on the screen, not the walls.)

Englewood on October 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

In the ads from the 1930 Southtown Economist, the Empress advertised their Thursday night boxing matches in addition to their regularly-scheduled burlesque shows.

Englewood on October 21, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Don’t know quite what to make of this one:

From the front page of the January 30, 1911 edition of the Englewood Economist (precursor to the Southtown Economist),there are three short blurbs regarding upcoming acts at local theaters. They list three: the Linden, the Marlowe (63d/Stewart), and the Empress. The first graf reads:

“The master ventriloquist, "Trovello,” is bringing to the Empress (formerly Trevett) theater next week a spectacular scenic ventriloquist novelty entitled “The Little Chauffer at the Boston Road Inn,” which will eclipse any production of this kind ever seen in vaudeville… . “ It then further describes Trovello.

My question is: What was this Trevett (theater) that was around two years before the Empress opened?

There is also a news brief of the same newspaper but from June 1907 that headlines: “Vaudette Still Open” Under that, in parentheses it reads: “Sixty-third street near Halsted)” It goes to describe the bill at the theater. Never heard of this one either. Anybody? Bryan? I’m very curious. If I find out anything else, I’ll post it.

kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 8:42 pm

The address is inconsistent. Besides the various street numbers provided above, the 1960 yellow pages listed the Empress at 6228 S. Halsted.

kencmcintyre on May 16, 2009 at 6:46 am

Here is a March 1923 ad from the Suburbanite Economist:

Englewood on July 9, 2009 at 10:56 pm

The ad is Page 5 from the Friday, March 9, 1923 edition of the Englewood Times, a forerunner to the Southtown Economist. Also on that page you would have seen the columns that were written for the Englewood Theater and the Empress Theatre. In the column on the former you’d have seen a notice about the upcoming vaudeville bill. It would’ve included a mention of the comedy team of Billy Frawley and his wife Edna Louise. Billy Frawley would later become known as character actor William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz on the I Love Lucy show some 30 years later.

Broan on October 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm

George L. Rapp may have helped design the Empress. http://archive.org/stream/movingpicturewor16movi#page/66/mode/2up

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