Empire Theatre

214 Montgomery Street,
Montgomery, AL 36104

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet

Showing 13 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2021 at 5:20 am

An Empire Theatre in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory was listed at 19 Commerce Street. The New Empire Theatre on Montgomery Street did not open until the summer of 1917. The December 1, 1917 issue of Moving Picture World devoted most of this page to an article about the new house, which it said had opened “a few weeks ago.” It had actually been a few months. This was the August 2 opening, an ad for which Mike Rivest has uploaded to the photo page. The new house was under the management of H. C. Farley, “…who for many years was in charge of the Empire theater on Commerce street.”

Much of the article is concerned with the Empire’s cooling and ventilation system, reputedly the first of its kind in any theater. A later issue of the magazine noted that a similar system had previously been installed in chambers of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in Washington.

The March 11, 1917 issue of the Montgomery Advertiser ran an article which said that the plans for the new theater were being drawn by “architect Ausfeld.” This was undoubtedly Frederick Ausfeld, one of Montgomery’s leading early 20th century architects, several of whose projects are now listed on the NRHP. Too bad the Empire Theatre can’t be among them.

Lorettaredd on March 13, 2018 at 6:54 pm

Management company name was Wilby-Kinsey. Robert B Wilby and A.J. “Mike” Kinsey. Once affiliated with Paramount-Publix with theatres owned or managed throughout South.

TheaterLover800 on June 30, 2017 at 9:10 am

I remember seeing the stereo sound conversion of Gone with the wind in 1972. Earlier I finally saw a film with stereophonic sound for the first time in a theater .It was the 72 reissue of Ben Hur.This was the time the Vietnam war was endingtoo.I was with a friend. This was before Dolby.It had a loud hissing sound in the stereo effects.I also saw Angel in my pocket and big Jake up there too.I also saw Dr. Jeykle and Miss Hyde too.

PhoenixBBS on November 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I was an usher at the Empire Theatre in 1954 and 1955. I also changed the marque. Starting salary was $0.40/hr!

Mike Goodson
Mike Goodson on August 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Here is a photo I made shortly before the historic theater was razed.

CSWalczak on February 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Artist Robert Cottingham has painted nine large pictures of this theater’s marquee in different media based on photographs he took of it in 1996: View link.

kencmcintyre on August 29, 2007 at 11:49 pm

In 1963, the Empire was part of the R.M. Kennedy theater circuit, headquartered in Birmingham. Kennedy also operated the Jasper in the city of Jasper and the Druid in Tuscaloosa. Kennedy theaters in Tennessee were the Bonnie Kate and Capitol in Elizabethtown and the Family Drive-In in Johnson City. Kennedy also operated the Center, Skyline Drive-In and South Drive-In in Greensboro, North Carolina.

thegreev on September 17, 2006 at 7:38 pm

For a picture of the Empire’s auditorium, click below:
View link

thegreev on September 16, 2006 at 9:28 pm

A terrific picture of the Empire is here:

View link

thegreev on September 15, 2006 at 12:52 pm

I was the manager of the Empire in 1969-1970, and it remains one of the favorites of my 30 year theatre management career. Remodeled into its final configuration in 1956, (it re-opened with John Wayne in “The Conqueror”), it had no balcony… rare for theatres of that era; all seats (776 of them) were on a single floor. I assumed management duties when the theatre was sold to Martin Theatres, and arrived during the roadshow engagement of “Funny Girl,” which played a total of 12 weeks.

I’m saddened that it’s gone; while it certainly wasn’t the most ornate of the movie palaces, seeing a film there was pure joy.

michaelmanos on December 15, 2002 at 3:31 pm

I worked at the Empire Theater in Montgomery from 1961 thru 1964 as an usher. Mr. Bicky Covey was the manager. I sat the first black patrons in this theater in 1964. This was a very historic moment in the civil rights movement in Montgomery. I have always had wonderful memories of this theater, the people who worked there, and the movies I saw.