Empress Theatre

211 W. 6th Street,
North Bend, NE 68649

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Additional Info

Functions: Opera House

Previous Names: North Bend Opera House

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The North Bend Opera House was located just off of Main Street. The original Opera House opened in 1884 and burned down in 1891. The new North Bend Opera House was built from the ground up in 1892 and 1893. It launched in July 21, 1893 with a live Frank Roberts and George Bucklin comedy.

Patronage dropped in the 1900’s and it was repositioned as the town’s movie theatre run by Hayes and Floyd Haverfield in 1908. But when the Star Theatre and Lyric Theatre were opened in downtown North Bend in 1912 featuring superior projection capabilities, the venue went back to what were called lightly-attended live shows from 1912 to 1915.

New operators, Harrier & Son, changed the Opera House back to films. On January 1, 1916, they renamed it as the Empress Theatre, the third movie theatre for the diminutive town. 1916 was the town’s high water mark for entertainment venues in North Bend with the Lyric Theatre opening in a new location, the Star Theatre, the Empress Theatre and the first season for the town’s new Airdome. The town simply could not support all of these venues.

That changed suddenly when, on July 11, 1916, the Empress Theatre suffered a major fire and the building razed. The last film seen at the location appears to be the serial, “The Adventures of Peg o' the Ring” starring and directed by Francis Ford. The Airdome did not return for its second season reducing the town to just the Star Theatre and Lyric Theatre which co existed until 1927 before merging.

As for the Opera House’s location, it was replaced by a new-build garage. The garage would have the dubious distinction of being the third business – but first non-entertainment venue – to be constructed, burn down, and be removed from that same lot.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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