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James V. Roy | profile | all galleries >> Merrimack Valley Theaters >> Lawrence Theaters >> Empire/Warner Theater tree view | thumbnails | slideshow | map

Empire/Warner Theater

The Empire theater at 1 Lawrence St. in Lawrence, MA was built in 1915 by Lawrence's Toomey and DeMara Amusement Co. It was the first theater to have an escalator. It was bordered by Lawrence St, Methuen St. and an alley called Empire St.
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 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."
Napoleon DeMara along with three other partners, built and opened the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in the '20s at Hampton Beach, NH. His brother Ferdnand (Fred) Demara worked at the Palace theater for years and his nephew, Ferdnand Demara Jr. went on to infamy as "the great impostor."
The Empire was later purchased by Dr. Alexander L. Siskind's Victoria Amusement Co., owners of the Victoria Theater. By the 1930's it was leased to and operated by the Massachusetts Amusement Corp., a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, along with the Palace and Broadway Theaters and the name was changed to the Warner Theater. In 1959, along with the Broadway and Palace it was sold again to a company representing Warner Brothers.
It closed on August 24, 1976, was purchased by the Essex Savings Bank for $175,000 and torn down in January of 1977. The bank had plans to build a new bank building for use as office space but ultimately just made it a parking lot.

CinemaTreasures.org ID: 11372
The Empire Theater
The Empire Theater
The Empire Theater
The Empire Theater
The Empire Theater
The Empire Theater
The Empire Theater
The Empire Theater
Lawrence St. from Canal
Lawrence St. from Canal
The Warner
The Warner
The Warner
The Warner
The Warner Theater
The Warner Theater
Demolition of the Warner Theater
Demolition of the Warner Theater
Demolition of the Warner Theater
Demolition of the Warner Theater
Site of the old Warner Theater
Site of the old Warner Theater
Site of the old Warner Theater
Site of the old Warner Theater
Empire St. (from Lawrence St.)
Empire St. (from Lawrence St.)