Imperial Theatre

26 E. Forsyth Street,
Jacksonville, FL 32202

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The Imperial Theater in Jacksonville, FL Circa 1958

Viewing: Photo | Street View

An early theater designed by Jacksonville architect Roy A. Benjamin, the Imperial was located on Jacksonville’s “Great White Way”, Forsyth Street (along with the Florida and Palace Theatres, both designed by Benjamin as well).

With a fairly elegant neo-Georgian style facade, the interior of the Imperial was not quite as ornate as the exterior. The Imperial sat nearly 1000. The theater closed in the mid-50s and was razed in 1956, along with the nearby Palace, and today a parking garage is located on the site of both theaters.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 3, 2004 at 6:32 pm

The seating capacity of the Imperial Theatre was 997 (651 Orchestra & 346 Balcony).

atlmike
atlmike on September 20, 2005 at 12:04 am

The information above that the Imperial closed and was torn down in the 1950’s is incorrect. It was still going strong during the ‘60’s as a 2nd run movie house. When I was in junior high school I often went downtown with my best friend to this theatre for horror movie double bills. The Empress theatre was right next door, a smaller theatre with similar bills. I remember seeing many of the Roger Cormon Edgar Allen Poe movies at the Imperial (Fall of the House of Usher, etc). It was not a movie palace like the Florida Theatre a couple of blocks away, but it still had vintage theatre charm from the pre-mall, pre-multi-plex days. Both the Imperial and Empress were still operating when I went away to college in the fall of 1969 and they continued to show movies for at least four or five years after that. As I moved to another part of the state after graduating, I lost track of such things, so I can’t say just when they shut down and were razed.

StanleyNorton
StanleyNorton on July 16, 2007 at 7:30 pm

There was always a double feature. Alot of Cowboys (Gene Autry, Roy Rogers). It was owned by the Florida State Theatres (which used to be Publix / Paramount) which also owned theFLORIDA,PALACE,ARCADE,IMPERIAL,CAPITOL, BRENTWOOD,EMPRESS and I think the FAIRFAX, also the SAN MARCO and the EDGEWOOD — all In Jacksonville

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 17, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Nice vintage photos.

DonLewis
DonLewis on October 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

From the late 1930s a postcard view of Forsyth Street along with the Imperial and Palace Theatres in Jacksonville.

Retrorama
Retrorama on August 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm

More photos of The Imperial are available on the Facebook page Pop Retrorama. You can also read about some Florida theaters and drive-ins on www.popretrorama.com where we celebrate all things related to vintage pop culture.

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