Warner Theatre

1 Lawrence Street,
Lawrence, MA 01840

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Previous Names: Empire Theatre

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Warner Theatre

Opened in 1915 as the Empire Theatre, it played vaudeville only in the early days and had an original seating capacity of 2,300.

From the 1930’s it came under the management of Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. and was re-named Warner Theatre.

It was demolished in 1976 to make way for a bank building.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on August 28, 2006 at 7:45 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Warner Theatre on Lawrence St. has a facade photo taken in May 1941. The theatre had a long distinctive marquee with a vertical sign at the left corner. It had a beautiful classical facade. The Report states that the theatre had been playing MGM films for over 10 years; that it was over 15 years old; that it was in Fair condition; and that it had 1132 seats on the orchestra floor and 895 in the balcony, total: 2027 seats.

barrygoodkin on May 27, 2007 at 4:11 am

The Empire (Warner) is listed in the 1928 Film Daily Year Book as being operated by Toomey & DeMara who also operated the Colonial, Empire, Palace and Premier in Lawrence.
Barry Goodkin

barrygoodkin on September 2, 2007 at 12:02 pm

The Empire (Warner) opened on March 30, 1915.

mamanintpa61 on September 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm

I remember going to The Warner in the early to mid 1970’s. This place was great it showed all the Disney movies of the era as well as having double features. The screen had beautiful red velvet curtains and when the theatre was full they would open up the balcony. In order to purchase tickets you had to wait outside and if the movie playing was popular you waited quite a while. However once the Showcase Cinema opened a few miles away with 4 screens at that time The Warner soon closed. I no longer live in that area but I’m told the downtown district is going through a revitilization wouldn’t it be cool if someone opened a nostolgic single screen theatre in this area. Lawrence was very well known in the 1950’s and 60’s for all the theatres in the city all which have long closed

jamesvroy@hotmail.com on February 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I remember the Warner theater in Lawrence well into the ‘70s. My friend Frank Jones was one of the last projectionists there. I only remember going there a few times though. In 1974 I worked at the Arlington Trust Co. that was diagonally up the street from it on the corner of Lawrence and Essex St. That summer there were a lot of people picketing and protesting the place because they were showing x-rated movies, “The Devil In Miss Jones” and “Deep Throat”. It was the first time in years though they had to open the balcony to accomodate the crowd. It closed not long after that though. Even with sub run movies and bargain nights at $1.00 they couldn’t compete with the likes of Sumner Redstone and the multiplexes. There was just no filling the large houses and even at half the capacities, the mutiplexes had to get smaller later to survive.

jamesvroy@hotmail.com on February 19, 2010 at 10:50 am

I wanted to also add that according to “The Life of Thelma Todd”, “she was named Miss Massachusetts 1925 at the Empire Theater. A talent scout from Paramount and Famous Players-Lasky Studio was asked by Napoleon Demara, manager of the Empire Theater, to take a look at Thelma. He liked what he saw and offered her a screen test in Boston. She was very photogenic and was offered a chance to go to Paramount and Famous Players-Lasky’s acting school. The Paramount and Famous Players-Lasky Studio was the last of the studios to leave New York and move to Hollywood.”

I believe though that Napoleon DeMara may have actually been the owner of the theater and not the manager. He was the uncle of Fred Demara, the great imposter and was a Lawrence businessman. He, along with three other partners, built and opened the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in the ‘20s at Hampton Beach, NH

jamesvroy@hotmail.com on February 22, 2010 at 10:13 am

Here are a couple of photos and some of the site today. I hope to find and post better ones at some later time

jamesvroy@hotmail.com on February 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I added another photo today, check that link above again

chitchatjf on March 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

It was actually demolished to make way for a parking lot for the bank located next to it.
Essex Savings then Sovereign today

jamesvroy@hotmail.com on March 17, 2010 at 7:05 am

I added an entry for the Nickel theater which was the theater on the site prior to the Empire/Warner. see CinemaTreasures.org ID: 32127

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