154 North Market Street,
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The Empire Theatre opened as a neighbor to the City Opera House on September 11, 1912. It was situated in the Junior Engine House, a fire station constructed in 1844. The second floor was called Junior Hall and was used for dances and political speeches as well as other events.
In 1869, the City Opera House became the new neighbor and Junior Hall was rarely used. In 1878, a 30-year lease was taken out for a retail space that lasted until 1909. The Empire Theatre was next to use the second floor space. Admission was five cents and the projection booth was fireproofed - a good thing since the fire department equipment and station was still housed on the bottom floor. Fisher’s Band played live music and the theatre promised three reels of motion pictures at every performance.
A major remodeling in 1913 left some wondering about the safety of the structure so theatre closed April 26, 1913. If the reports are correct, it moved to a main level still on North Market Street into a revamped space once held by the short-lived Bi-Jou Family Theatre where it continued into 1930.
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