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Empire Theater
160 South State Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
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The Bicentennial Symphony Hall opened on 14 September 1979, with guest conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczeski directing the Utah Symphony.   On 4 January 1993, the facility was renamed Abravanel Hall, in honor of Maurice Abravanel, who conducted the Utah Symphony for 32 years and was credited with transforming the part-time community orchestra into a nationally respected symphony.

 
 
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The Empire Theater building from across State Street.

Photographer: Grant Smith
Date: 10 December 2005

Empire Theater
160 South State Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
 
Status:
Closed 
Open:
1908  
Closed:
1955  
 
The Empire, which opened in 1908, was the first movie theater in Salt Lake. The theater was located at 160 South State, next to the Gem theater and down the street from the Promised Valley Playhouse.

The building was built in 1906, so the theater may have been a converted store. The theater was founded by Harry S. Rand, who owned a chain of hotels until he lost much of his fortune in the San Franciso fire of 1906. In 1908, Mr. Rand started a chain of theaters in Salt Lake and Denver. He personally managed the Empire theater in Salt Lake until 1916 and then turned the lease over to W. E. Shipley.

The Empire installed a sound system in 1930, but the theater could not make the transition to widescreen films in the early 1950s. The theater was too long and narrow. W. E. Shipley retired in 1950, and the Empire closed about 1955.1 The building became Scheibner's Health Food Store and later Pawn Broker Exchange.


1. Polk's Salt Lake City Directory, 1908, 1930; Polk's Utah Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1908-1909, 1912-1913, 1918-1919, 1920-1921, 1922-1923, 1927-1928, 1930-1931; Salt Lake City Classified Business Directory, Summer 1931 through 1954-1955