Amherst Theatre

253 Church Street,
Amherst, OH 44001

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Additional Info

Architects: H.O. Wurmser

Previous Names: Empire Theatre, Colonial Theatre, Mary Jane Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Postcard view, EMPIRE Theatre; Amherst, Ohio.

Opened in 1908, the Empire Theatre was a typical small-town nickelodeon, and was owned by a Mr. McGee and managed by a Mr. Nugent. An early pianist-accompanist was a Mrs. Emery Schultz Redman. In 1930 it was renamed Colonial Theatre.

In 1935 it was renamed Mary Jane Theatre, and continued with that name until 1944 when it was renamed Amherst Theatre, and closed in 1959.

The current Amherst Cinema operates across the the street from the former Amherst Theatre.

Contributed by Lou Rugani

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

CSWalczak on September 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm

It was the Mary Jane as early as 1938 as there is an ad for the theater on p. 6 of this copy of the Amherst News-Times.

CSWalczak on September 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I am not sure that the Empire and the Mary Jane were the same theater. Here is a picture of the Empire Theater from the Amherst Public Library’s Digital Collection; the note on the bottom says that the Empire was located at 257 Church St.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm

The Empire and the Mary Jane were the same theater according to the September-October, 2008, issue of The Grindstone, the newsletter of the Amherst Historical Society. 253 Church Street is the correct address. After it was called the Mary Jane, the house became the Amherst Theatre. Page 8 of The Grindstone has a photo from the mid-1950s>.

Here is the newsletter in PDF format and here it is as a Google Documents page.

Today’s Amherst Cinema is almost directly across the street from the site of the Empire/Mary Jane/Amherst Theatre. The Cinema must be newer than its Cinema Treasures description currently says it is. The old theater lasted at least long enough to have its picture taken with that mid-1950s Pontiac parked nearby.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm

The Empire Theatre is advertised in the November 8, 1917, issue of the Amherst Times. The Mary Jane Theatre is mentioned in the June 15, 1933, issue of the Amherst News-Times.

The address 248 Park Avenue turns out to have been the location of Amherst’s other silent era movie house, the Park Theatre, which operated from ca.1915 to ca.1923.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm

During the early 1930s this house was called the Colonial Theatre. A renaming contest was held in 1930, and the winner was announced in the June 19 issue of the Amherst News-Times. The same publication’s issue of March 2, 1933, said that the Colonial Theatre would be closed for one week for remodeling. I can’t find it mentioned in the paper after that date, so that was probably when the name was changed to Mary Jane Theatre.

CSWalczak on September 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm

According this local history of Amherst, pp. 125-129, this theater was the Empire from 1908-1930, and the Mary Jane from 1935-1944, so it would appear that it was the Colonial from 1930-1935 (there is an ad for the Colonial included, although this name is not mentioned in the text). It was then the Amherst from 1944 to 1959, when that name went on the new Amherst across the street. The building that was the Empire/Colonial/Mary Jane/Amherst was demolished in 1972. There are pictures and ads within these pages. The text does confirm that there was street re-numbering in Amherst over the years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2012 at 10:54 am

The Mary Jane Theatre was operating by June 15, 1933, per the local newspaper item I cited in my 2:21 PM comment September 24. Whoever captioned the old photo in the book CSWalczak linked to must have gotten the year of that name change wrong.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 12, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Mr. V.E. McGee had an addition built at his theater in Amherst in 1914, as noted in the April 25 issue of The American Contractor that year. The 30x36-foot addition was designed by Loraine, Ohio, architect H.O. Wurmser.

Page 8 of this PDF has two early photos of the Empire Theatre, plus a small photo of the house as the Amherst, probably taken around 1954. The false front on the building might have been from Mr. Wurmser’s project of 1914.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.