Empire Theatre

419 High Street,
Holyoke, MA 01040

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Additional Info

Architects: John Bailey McElfatrick

Firms: J. B. McElfatrick and Sons

Functions: Retail

Previous Names: Star Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Empire Theater

An early Holyoke theatre, located on High Street, north of Dwight Street. The Empire Theatre was opened on November 2, 1893. Apparently it did not make the transition to “talkies”.

Contributed by DrRussD

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

unknown on March 6, 2007 at 3:54 pm

The Holyoke Daily Transcript for February 10, 1915 lists the Empire theatre (no address is in the ad) with matinees at 2:30 and evenings at 8:15. The ad promotes an “Engagement Extrordinaire!” Mrs. Leslie Carter, “America’s Finest Actress” in “Du Barry” “—A photo-dramatization of her greatest success —” Apparently this was the filmed version of a successful stage-play that had also featured Mrs. Carter. The ad also indicates that matinee admission is 10 cents and 15 cents and evening prices are 15 cents and 25 cents.

The other theatres listed on this date are the Holyoke Theatre (formerly the Holyoke Opera House and listed elsewhere on this site as E.M. Loew’s State Theatre); The Majestic, The Suffolk, the Granbd Theatrein Holyoke and the Poli’s Palace in nearby Springifield.

Redtelephone on December 22, 2009 at 9:54 am

The Empire Theatre was located at 147 High St. The Triangle Shoe Store is located there now.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on December 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

Listed as the Star Theatre in the 1918 business directory.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm

The Empire Theatre was one of two houses listed for Holyoke in the 1906-1907 Cahn guide. It was a ground floor house with 1,050 seats. T. F. Murray was the manager.

The Empire Theatre was listed (without an address) in the District Police Report for the year ending on October 31, 1913. It was one of eight theaters listed for Holyoke.

The January 22, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World carried this item:

“Thomas Murray, whose Empire theater at Holyoke, Mass., burned down several months ago, was in Boston last week and announced that he had secured additional land adjoining the site of the old theater upon which he intends to erect a new structure with a seating capacity of 1,800.”
The only mention of the Star Theatre I’ve found in the trade publications is in the March 18, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World, which says that the Star had just been purchased by Oliver Bernest. The seller’s name was not given.

No theater was listed for the address 147 High Street, or any nearby address, in the 1922 New England Business Directory, which had a total of ten theaters listed. If the Star was indeed the theater built on the site of the Empire, and it had 1,600 seats, I can’t imagine why it closed so soon. Maybe Murray’s rebuilding plans fell through and something more modest was built.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 18, 2013 at 9:45 am

This web page says that the Empire Theatre opened on November 2, 1893. A Springfield Republican article about the event noted that the theater was designed by J. B. McElfatrick & Son, and that the Empire resembled the Court Square Theatre in Springfield, designed by the same firm and opened the previous year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 18, 2013 at 11:45 am

The July-December, 1915, edition of Safety Engineering reported that the fire at the Empire Theatre in Holyoke took place on April 22. The fire, which started at the rear of the stage, caused $50,000 damage.

bobcat4214 on May 15, 2021 at 4:49 pm

The Empire Theater was at 419 High Street. The Grand Theater is also visible in this photograph three building to the right of the Empire. It was at 407 High Street. The Star Theater was at 147 High Street and lasted from 1908 to 1920.

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