Empress Theatre

6226 S. Halsted Street,
Chicago, IL 60621

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 8, 2021 at 6:39 pm

Three was a new operator for the Empress Theatre in 1923, noted in this item from the September 8 issue of Moving Picture World:

“The Empress Theatre at 6230 South Halsted street has been leased by the Acme Amusement Company, who will open early in September with mixed bills. The house seats 540 and is in the heart of Englewood district.”
I’m not sure what “mixed bills” means– perhaps movies with a few vaudeville acts. But I don’t know why the magazine gave such a low seating capacity for this fairly large house.

DavidZornig on March 28, 2021 at 12:19 pm

CT page for the Vaudette Theatre. 2 photos.


DavidZornig on March 28, 2021 at 8:41 am

Great thanks! I will set up a page for it. That gives the address, though before the latter 1911 Street Renumbering after the Loop in 1909. And the Chicago History Museum has cut off access to the 1911 pdf, but we’ll go with what we have for now.

Broan on March 28, 2021 at 7:47 am

David - there’s a reference here, in 1909. I don’t see much reference to this theater outside 1908-1909. https://ia800607.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?id=moviewor05chal&itemPath=%2F9%2Fitems%2Fmoviewor05chal&server=ia800607.us.archive.org&page=leaf0613

DavidZornig on March 27, 2021 at 8:32 pm

Englewood and Broan, I was forwarded a postcard image of the Vaudette Theatre on 63rd near Halsted as mentioned above. It may have been vaudeville only however and did not show films. As the promotions above the entrance do not come back as film titles. CinemaTour doesn’t even have the other Vaudette on 92nd Street, so no help there. If the 63rd Street Vaudette is proven to have had films, I will set up a page for it.

Broan on October 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm

George L. Rapp may have helped design the Empress. http://archive.org/stream/movingpicturewor16movi#page/66/mode/2up

Englewood on July 9, 2009 at 10:56 pm

The ad is Page 5 from the Friday, March 9, 1923 edition of the Englewood Times, a forerunner to the Southtown Economist. Also on that page you would have seen the columns that were written for the Englewood Theater and the Empress Theatre. In the column on the former you’d have seen a notice about the upcoming vaudeville bill. It would’ve included a mention of the comedy team of Billy Frawley and his wife Edna Louise. Billy Frawley would later become known as character actor William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz on the I Love Lucy show some 30 years later.

kencmcintyre on May 16, 2009 at 6:46 am

Here is a March 1923 ad from the Suburbanite Economist:

kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 8:42 pm

The address is inconsistent. Besides the various street numbers provided above, the 1960 yellow pages listed the Empress at 6228 S. Halsted.

Englewood on October 21, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Don’t know quite what to make of this one:

From the front page of the January 30, 1911 edition of the Englewood Economist (precursor to the Southtown Economist),there are three short blurbs regarding upcoming acts at local theaters. They list three: the Linden, the Marlowe (63d/Stewart), and the Empress. The first graf reads:

“The master ventriloquist, "Trovello,” is bringing to the Empress (formerly Trevett) theater next week a spectacular scenic ventriloquist novelty entitled “The Little Chauffer at the Boston Road Inn,” which will eclipse any production of this kind ever seen in vaudeville… . “ It then further describes Trovello.

My question is: What was this Trevett (theater) that was around two years before the Empress opened?

There is also a news brief of the same newspaper but from June 1907 that headlines: “Vaudette Still Open” Under that, in parentheses it reads: “Sixty-third street near Halsted)” It goes to describe the bill at the theater. Never heard of this one either. Anybody? Bryan? I’m very curious. If I find out anything else, I’ll post it.

Englewood on October 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

In the ads from the 1930 Southtown Economist, the Empress advertised their Thursday night boxing matches in addition to their regularly-scheduled burlesque shows.

Englewood on October 8, 2008 at 10:08 am

From a website I ran into by chance, there is mention of a rather prominent painter (for the time) commissioned to do murals at the Empress Theatre. His name was Edgar Payne. The website address is:

It’s worth a look.

(I don’t remember seeing any murals at the Empress but I was a kid who kept his eye on the screen, not the walls.)

Englewood on November 28, 2007 at 1:03 pm

To Bryan Krefft:

You are correct. I researched it a little more and found that this theater’s first name was the Avenue Theater. (See my posting for today, November 28, 2007.) I should have seen it wasn’t the Empress just by the address: the Empress was on the west side of Halsted Street with an even-numbered address, while the Avenue had an odd-number address.

hanksykes on November 27, 2007 at 3:59 pm

I wonder if the Empress Theater was originally owned by the Sullivan and Considine nation burleskque chain, as all of their theaters were named Empress across the country.

Englewood on September 13, 2007 at 8:44 pm

From the Chicago Tribune, January 20, 1904, in a composite story about theaters in Chicago coming up to code, there is mention of an Avenue Theater. Anyone ever heard of this theater in Englewood? Here is the story:

If It Must Come Under Class 5 Management May Decide Not to Reopen

The Avenue theater at 6237 Halsted street may not reopen if the contention of its management that the building is not in “class5” is overruled. The seating capacity of the house is 557. It lacks a steel curtain, sprinklers, a brick proscenium wall, fluid pipes, fire alarms, sandpipes, and fireproofed staging. Three months would be required to make these and other needed improvements.

Sounds real close to the Empress, the massive address changing of 1908 notwithstanding.

CharlesZirino on September 8, 2007 at 1:37 pm

Went to grammer school with a kid that lived in the Halwood Hotel. Mostly the well to do lived there and I remember a lot of them stored their autos at lindblatts garage on 63rd near Parnell. They really had some beautiful old Packards and Cadillacs and an occasional Duesenberg in there. Used to chase for coffee at White Castle for the owner. The tip got me into the theaters. My god am I old!
Chuckie Z.

John P Keating Jr
John P Keating Jr on July 29, 2007 at 9:59 am

I never attended the Empress when it was a burlesque house, but I do remember that the performers would cross Halsted Street to go the Halwood Hotel on Englewood Avenue between shows. It was the hotel were they lived.

Englewood on July 20, 2007 at 11:22 pm

One More from the Chicago Tribune, Monday, May 21, 1917

Dog Race Winner on Stage

“Fred Hartman, the plucky American fur trader who won fame in the Winnipeg-St. Paul dog race last winter, will spend the time before he is called into active training as a military aviator by lecturing on his experiences in the far north. Hartman will give an act with his dog team at the Empress Theater this week.”

Englewood on July 20, 2007 at 11:07 pm

Also from the Chicago Tribune, Thursday, May 2, 1929:

An amateur boxing show will be held at the Empress Theater tonight. The windup will bring together Joe Freeman and Red Byrson of Calumet City at 128 pounds.

Englewood on July 20, 2007 at 10:40 pm

From the Chicago Tribune, Sunday, March 15, 1931:

Police Raid
Burlesque as
Indecent Show

Police raided the Empress theater at 6230 South Halsted street last night, stopped a burlesque show and arrested two dancing girls, four other performers and the acting manager as 1,000 patrons looked on.

The raid was carried out in much the same manner as that against Earl Carroll’s “Sketch Book” revue at the Grand Opera house on Feb. 13. First Deputy Commissioner William Scanlan, said the latest raid was part of police plans to close allegedly improper shows. In the Loop raid, however, the “Sketch Book” received judicial exoneration.

Those arrested at the Empress are Frank Benham, acting manager; Jessie Reese and Nora White of 752 Englewood Avenue; Sylvia Manor of 8 East Elm Street; Hal Rathbun; and Georgette Walker, 3185 Ellis Avenue, and Ida Brown, 65 East 49th Street, the last two colored dancers. Warrants against them were signed yesterday by Municipal Judge Joseph Graber. The charge was participation in an indecent performance.

Deputy Scanlan superintended the raid but Lt. William Gainor strode on the stage to announce the show was closed. The patrons, many of them women, were ordered out. Those arrested were taken to the Englewood station. Their cases were set for hearing for tomorrow at the Des Plaines Street station.

Broan on June 17, 2006 at 10:13 am

Here is a profile from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s HAARGIS system. It includes a small picture.

CharlesZirino on October 4, 2005 at 6:22 pm

Now here’s one I remember as being one of the six being in the 63rd and Halsted shopping area.It was my first movie experience as a kid when my mother took us there during the war years.I seen a western with Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson and bob Steel.The admission was two cents for a kid. I was hooked for life.I went there many times but I don’t remember anything spectacular about it. It just seemed to be an average neighborhood theatre that was lacking in the luxury and splendor of the Southtown and Stratford.
Chuckie Z.