Strand Theatre

134 E. Wayne Street,
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

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Additional Info

Architects: John M.E. Riedel

Previous Names: Empress Theatre Shirley Theatre

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The Empress Theatre opened March 9, 1913. It was remodelled and reopened as the Strand Theatre October 9, 1916. It was in operation under that name as a moving picture theatre until 1929. On April 10, 1936 it was reopened as the Shirley Theatre (in honor of Shirley Temple) with Fred Astaire in “Top Hat & Shirley Temple in "Curly Top”. It was closed in April 1937 and was demolished for a parking lot.

The Strand Theatre’s site, at the southeast corner of Wayne Street and Clinton Street, is today part of a grassy open plaza fronting One Summit Square.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 12, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Here is an early interior photo of the Empress Theatre.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on October 31, 2010 at 8:27 am

I should have said the theater was on the Southwest Corner of Wayne and Clinton.

Open 1912-~1945? Can anyone verify the exact dates?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 27, 2012 at 5:15 am

A book about Fort Wayne published by the Fort Wayne News in 1913 attributes the design of the Empress Theatre to one of the town’s leading architects of the period, John M. E. Riedel. He also designed the Lyric Theatre.

In its early years, the Empress presented Sullivan & Considine vaudeville, and as Lee DeCamp was the supervising architect for the circuit, it’s possible that he also had a hand in designing the Empress. In 1912, DeCamp had his main office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about 150 miles from Fort Wayne.

dallasmovietheaters on June 28, 2015 at 7:34 am

March 9, 1913 was the grand opening of the Empress Theatre at 134 East Wayne St. Articles about the forthcoming theater start in the fall of 1912 but each one is about another facet of the theater’s construction and hiring as personnel are on board months prior to the theater opening. The theater adopts a Kinemacolor projector that was only marketed on more year and the theater only lasts three years and three months as the Empress. The Rialto Amusement Company took on the location opening its Strand Theatre on October 29, 1916. Ads said they spent $15,000 to transform the the Empress to a fairyland with nothing but the walls the same.

rivest266 on April 22, 2024 at 4:42 pm

Grand opening ad as Strand posted.

rivest266 on April 23, 2024 at 6:49 am

Stopped showing movies in 1929 and reopens as Shirley on April 11th, 1936, and closed in April 1937 for a parking lot and gas station. Ad posted.

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