Empress Theatre

22 E. Aspen Avenue,
Flagstaff, AZ 86011

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Following the collapse of Flagstaff’s Majestic Theatre in a blizzard on the last day of 1915, the theatre’s owner and operating partners took different courses. Owner John Weatherford began plans to rebuild, while partners John Costigan and Lee Smith were eager to get the Majestic Theatre back in operation and opened a temporary location for it in a rented storefront one week after the disaster.

Costigan bought out Lee’s share of the operation and after a few weeks found a former garage on East Aspen Street where, on March 3, 1916, he opened the Empress Theatre. After Weatherford’s new Orpheum Theatre opened under the management of John Barncord on the site of the original Majestic Theatre August 31, 1916, Costigan continued to operate the Empress Theatre for almost a year, but on August 4, 1917 he bought Barncord’s lease on the Orpheum Theatre and closed the Empress Theatre.

Today the site of the demolished Empress Theatre is part of Flagstaff’s Heritage Square, an open space used for a variety of public events, including free concerts and movie screenings at the 1,200-seat Empress Amphitheatre.

Contributed by Joe W. Vogel
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