804-806 Indiana Avenue,
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The Empress Theatre replaced an older theatre which went by the name of the Dreamland Theatre (July 1, 1912-October 5, 1912) which combined movies and vaudeville; and by the name of the Alamo Theatre (October 26, 1912-December 31, 1913) with movies only.
Operator Henry Putz operated the Alamo Theatre returning from Dallas where he installs Wichita Falls' first multi-projector, continuous showing theater. He also amazes locals with a Wichita Falls-shot film. But he gets a better deal to show his films at the Wichita Opera House ending the Alamo Theatre at the end of 1912.
Local insurance and real estate person T.B. Noble razes the Dreamland/Alamo Theatre building a multi-tenant retail spot called the Empress Theatre Building. It houses two businesses on Indiana Avenue. (at 804 and 806) along with the Empress (soon to be Jordan’s) Confectionery. The Empress Theatre has an entrance leading to the theatre auditorium down a long entryway at the back. The theatre is called the Empress Theatre with 600 seats and operator Bert Earle signs a ten-year lease.
The Empress Theatre launched February 28, 1914 with “Through the Clouds” as the first film. It earns its stripes within three weeks having its first nitrate film fire but with the damage fortunately contained to its projection booth. Five years later Steven A. Lynch’s Southern Enterprises takes over the theatre which was one of the Paramount Theatre Corp.’s funded exhibiting arms. The theatre books Paramount features over the next five years. Though the theatre is listed in the Motion Picture Index in 1925, the theatre appears to have ceased operations in 1924 at the end of its ten year lease.
The Empress Theatre was demolished and became home to the long-standing Petroleum Building in downtown Wichita Falls.
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