Empress Theatre

1120-24 McGee Street,
Kansas City, MO 64106

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Empress...Kansas City Missouri

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Empress Theatre, at the northwest corner of Twelfth Street and McGee Street, with its handsome front and marquee on McGee Street, was built by the Sullivan and Considine Vaudeville circuit. At the time it was considered one of the most modern vaudeville houses in America.

The $180,000 fireproof building of concrete, steel, marble and tile opened in May, 1910, with three vaudeville and motion picture shows daily, 2:30. 7:30, and 9:30 o'clock.

Controversy over a movie called “Ecstasy” threatened to close the theater for time, but the film played on in spite of the critics. With the decline of vaudeville, the theater became a burlesque house. It closed in the fall of 1936 after a proposed 40-week burlesque season lasted only 12 weeks. The building was then converted for use by stores.

The entire structure was razed in 1956 to make way for an eight-level parking grarage for the Traders National Bank. The basement of the old building was reinforced and is used for bank storage purposes.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 30, 2005 at 1:29 pm

A Kilgen organ Size 2/10 was installed in the Empress Theater in 1919.

adamrod
adamrod on May 16, 2006 at 10:22 am

Charlie Chaplin’s last performance with the Karno Vaudville Company was at the Empress Theatre in Kansas City. Ealier, he had been contacted by Mack Sennett to join the Keystone Studios in Calf. Chaplin seperated from the Karno Company after the KC performance. We all know what happened after that !!!
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adamrod
adamrod on May 16, 2006 at 10:22 am

Charlie Chaplin’s last performance with the Karno Vaudville Company was at the Empress Theatre in Kansas City. Ealier, he had been contacted by Mack Sennett to join the Keystone Studios in Calf. Chaplin seperated from the Karno Company after the KC performance. We all know what happened after that !!!
a

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 23, 2010 at 7:34 am

The actual architect for the Empress Theatre was Lee DeCamp. The Kansas City Journal of February 1, 1910, said that pouring of the foundations for the new theater of the Sullivan and Considine vaudeville circuit was to begin that day. I’m not sure what role the Boller Brothers filled in the project, but it was most likely to supervise construction for DeCamp, whose office was at the time located in Cincinnati.

Many Sullivan and Considine houses were called the Empress, and a number of these were designed by DeCamp. Among them was the Empress in Sacramento, California, which was later renamed the Hippodrome, and then gutted and rebuilt as the Crest in the late 1940s.

An item in the August 7, 1915, issue of Moving Picture World said that DeCamp had by then designed more than forty theaters, and had several more in the works. His most recent commission was for a theater to be built at London, Ontario, for Canadian showman C. H. Bangs.

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on January 9, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Are there any interior pics of the Empress. As a young boy, I can remember seeing it being demolished while riding in a 12th Street Streetcar on several occasions. It was a very large theater and maybe even larger than the Tower on 12th Street.

RobbKCity
RobbKCity on August 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm

A postcard of the Empress Theater can be found here:

http://kchistory.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/Mrs&CISOPTR=1117&CISOBOX=1&REC=5

DonLewis
DonLewis on May 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm

From the early 1900s a postcard view of the Empress in Kansas City.

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