Empire Arts Center

415 Demers Avenue,
Grand Forks, ND 58201

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet

EMPIRE (EMPIRE ARTS CENTER) Theatre; Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The New Grand Theatre, designed by Buechner & Orth in an Italian Revival style, opened on November 10, 1919 with 948 seats as the first structure in town constructed specifically for showing movies rather than live performances. It was the first theater in town to add sound in 1928, was heavily remodeled in 1930 after becoming a Paramount-Publix Theatre. It was remodeled again in 1954 when it was the first theater in town to add CinemaScope and stereo sound, changing its name to the Empire Theatre in January 1955.

It remained essentially the same until it closed in 1994 and was donated by Midcontinent Theatres to the local arts council in 1995. It was renovated to preserve the flavor of all three of its incarnations (especially its original Baroque and 1930s Deco touches), while reducing the seating to accommodate a newly expanded stage and new orchestra pit.

Currently, it hosts a variety of live stage events, meetings, and some movies (usually presented on 16mm or via video projection, as the theater has not yet been able to afford to acquire 35mm film equipment to replace what was removed when it closed as a first-run movie house).

Contributed by Christopher Jacobs

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

tkinz
tkinz on February 17, 2008 at 8:27 pm

My earliest memory of this place was seeing “Mary Poppins”, probably around ‘65 or '66. It was one of the few theaters in Grand Forks, and although as a kid it seemed old and musty, when I think back, it was a pretty cool theater – great architecture with interesting ornamentation. Also, I had an accident at this theater in the early 70s, when I walked through a plate glass window in the lobby, after a showwing of the “HR Puffinstuff” movie. Must have been some movie.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 17, 2008 at 1:19 am

Here is an event that took place at the theater in May 2007. I think the name should be changed to Empire Arts Center.
http://tinyurl.com/5z7fsd

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 11, 2009 at 7:04 am

According to the finding aid for the Buechner & Orth papers at the University of Minnesota, the firm designed over a dozen theaters. So far, Cinema Treasures attributes only three of these, with separate listings for Charles Buechner and Henry Orth.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 13, 2009 at 12:55 am

The list is on-line, but the UM web site is oddly set up so I can’t find the page the full list is on, only the introductory page. I’ve only seen the actual list in the Google cache of the page, which is a bunch of dismantled text, difficult to decipher. I’m not sure which theaters are already listed at Cinema Treasures, perhaps under later names, and which are missing. Four theaters on the list don’t even have names given. I’m still trying to puzzle it all out. Maybe somebody else will have more luck with it.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater