535 W. Second Avenue,
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Architects: Paul Gordon Carlson
Firms: Carlson, Eley & Grevstad
Previous Names: Fairbank Theatre
News About This Theater
- Jan 19, 2007 — Fairbanks theater returns
Built for “Cap” Lathrop, the 670-seat Fairbank Theatre was opened on September 8, 1921. It was the first Fairbanks structure built with concrete, which many thought would not hold up through the frigid Alaskan winters. On January 31, 1922 it was renamed Empress Theatre.
Besides movies, the Empress Theatre featured live stage shows, legitimate theatre, and concerts. In the early-1950’s, the theatre was heavily modernized by the architectural firm Calson, Eley, Grevstad with bold new décor including a large, neon-lit marquee.
In 1953, the Empress Theatre, which was a center for Fairbanks nightlife for decades, was closed.
The former theater today serves as a shopping center, called the Co-Op Plaza, with its façade restored to it’s simple 1920’s appearance, the garish 1950’s marquee is long since removed.
The Empress Theatre is just down Second Avenue from the Lacey Street Theatre, an Art Deco style gem that now houses the Fairbanks Ice Museum.
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