Empire Theatre

864 Westchester Avenue,
Bronx, NY 10459

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: RKO

Functions: Church

Previous Names: RKO Empire Theatre

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Empire Theatre

The Empire Theatre opened around 1894, with 1,660 seats. It stood on Westchester Avenue at 161st Street. Starting about 1940, the Empire Theatre became one of the first Spanish-language movie houses in the Bronx.

The Empire Theatre has long served as a church.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 27, 2006 at 10:11 am

Listed in the 1943 edition of Film Daily Yearbook as being operated by RKO Theaters. It has gone from listings by 1950. From February 1954 a C.O. was issued for use as a church.

Here are four photographs of the Empire Theatre I took in June 2005:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 27, 2006 at 11:51 am

Thanks Warren…Well we all know that the F.D.Y. can be a little tardy and sloppy with its listings at times.

Markiebee800 on September 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Used to live on Stebbins ave & 163rd… We used to go to that church in the summertime for free lunches in the 70’s.. A school is right on the corner..

pcrown on February 25, 2013 at 9:53 am

My grandfather, Sydney S. Cohen, ran the Empire Theater for a number of years, including 1915. The theater letter head stationery from that time includes, “Operated and controlled by the Sydco Photoplay Corporation, 331 Madison Avenue”, which was one of Sydney’s companies. In a letter to his wife, Bertie, mailed on April 6, 1915, he notes “Another big night at Bronx $184.95 = Tuesday”

I would be very interested in hearing from you if you have more information about the Empire Theater around 1915.

JM3522 on February 3, 2017 at 10:28 am

The building is not demolished. I believe it is still used as a church.

pcrown on February 3, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Thanks, JM3522. I appreciate your letting me know.

Naomih on March 10, 2018 at 7:49 am

Yes, the building is a church, it is still the same church (John 3:16) since they purchased the building in the early 60’s. They later purchased the entire block and built a school type building for Sunday School classes and events. My parents were members of the church from 1948 till about 1976. The church started in store front, then they moved to a building in Interval and later purchased the Empire Theater.

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