Empire Theatre

158 South State Street,
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

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Empire Theatre

The Empire Theatre, which opened in 1908, was the first movie theatre in Salt Lake. The theater was located at 158 S. State, next to the Gem Theatre and down the street from the Promised Valley Playhouse. The building was built in 1906, so the theatre may have been a converted store.

The theatre was founded by Harry S. Rand, who owned a chain of hotels until he lost much of his fortune in the San Francisco’s Fire of 1906. In 1908, Mr. Rand started a chain of theatres in Salt Lake and Denver. He personally managed the Empire Theatre in Salt Lake until 1916 and then turned the lease over to W. E. Shipley.

The Empire Theatre installed a sound system in 1930, but the theatre did not make the transition to widescreen films in the early-1950’s, due to its long and narrow interior. W. E. Shipley retired in 1950, and the Empire Theatre closed circa 1955.

The building became Scheibner’s Health Food Store and was later demolished.

Contributed by Grant Smith

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

William on December 6, 2003 at 3:54 pm

The Empire Theatre seated 300 people.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 16, 2008 at 10:44 pm

The closing of the Empire Theatre was noted in an item in the July 23, 1955, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.

rivest266 on April 3, 2022 at 8:39 am

This opened on January 21st, 1908 Empire theatre openingEmpire theatre opening 18 Jan 1908, Sat Goodwin’s Weekly: A Thinking Paper for Thinking People (Salt Lake City, Utah) Newspapers.com

It was not the first movie theater in town. The Electric theatre opened in June 1907 and the Edison Electric theatre opened on April 9th, 1902.

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