ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Empire Theater



Empire Theater, 1900s, Housed in Concordia Opera House (Elk's Club)



07 07       The announcement was made June 18th that a plan was on foot to turn the Idea theatre on First Street into a vaudeville play house . . . The plan is now certainty . . . Mr. Ordens again visiting the city, having just signed a lease with the new owner of the theatre . . . It is the intention of the gentlemen to change the name of the theatre, calling it the Empire and to give Watertown nothing but first-class vaudeville, with two complete changes of vaudeville program each week and three changes of moving pictures and illustrated songs.  The plan of the gentlemen is to bring attractions here direct from the Empire theatre, booking independent of any circuit.  The cream city theater mentioned is one of the most popular vaudeville houses there.


10 23       Beginning in the very near future, the management of the Empire theater will change the policy of the house, running vaudeville for one-half of the week and presenting the cream of road shows for the other days—bringing to Watertown such shows as it has always been necessary to go to the larger cities to see.  The management is confident that the city will support them in their endeavors to please the amusement loving public and show their appreciation by a liberal patronage of the house, as nothing but the best in drama, comedy and musical shows will be presented and those which are recognized as the higher class of shows by the theatre going public of the larger cities.


12 13       There will be another big vaudeville bill at the Empire theater next Sunday, matinee and evening.  The local manager, Mr. Conway, states that the program will be one of exceptional merit and deserving of a crowded house at each performance.  The prices of admission will be the same as heretofore. Matinee at 2:00 p.m., at 10 and 15 cents.  Evening performances at 8:00 and 9:15 o’clock, prices 10, 15 and 20 cents.   WG



02 12          The Empire Theatre under its present management is very popular.  A fine line of vaudeville is being put on and all who attend are delighted with the performances.  The theatre is connected with the Western Vaudeville Association, hence nothing but first class performances are put on.  WG


03 12          Empire Theatre a Credit to Watertown.  The above theatre is making every effort to please the theatre-going public of Watertown and deserves the fullest patronage that can be accounted them, being connected with the Western Vaudeville Association, which controls and owns forty houses throughout the country, gives the managers the advantage of securing the same attractions that play Chicago, Milwaukee and in fact all the leading cities throughout the United States.  Every possible thing that can be done for the comfort and pleasure of their patrons is being looked after.  The house is clean and comfortable and conducted on the most legitimate policy that can be pursued and nothing but the highest praise has been heard from any one.  Every patron attending the performances is looked upon as a special guest and the management requests suggestions of anyone that has anything to offer that can in any way better the conditions or policy of the house.  Nothing is permitted on the stage or among the audience to offend the most fastidious.  Remember Friday night is amateur night at the Empire.  This is a popular pleasure throughout the east and west, affording a lot of amusement and the expression “Get the Hook” originated owing to the fact that they use a large hook to take the amateurs off the stage that the audience does not approve of.  Three cash prizes are given and the audience allowed to decide by their approbation who is entitled to receive them.  Don’t miss the opportunity of seeing your local talent display their ability before the footlights.  The show for the balance of the week is the best presented at the Empire since the opening.  Come and be convinced.  Ladies’ souvenir matinee on Wednesday.    WG


03 19          Local Night at the Empire Theatre.  The above theatre is meeting with big success, owing to the fact that they give to the people of Watertown a high class of entertainment, the same as produced in all large cities.  The house is conducted on thoroughly legitimate principles and nothing left undone to please its patrons.  On Saturday night a handsome parlor lamp will be given to a lady or gentleman presenting the largest number of reserve seat coupons for the week.  This prize will be given away after the second show on that evening.  Friday night an extraordinary attraction will be presented—in addition to the regular show the management will inaugurate what is to be known as LOCAL NIGHT, giving the Watertown talent an opportunity to display their ability before the footlights.  Send in your names and help boost the Empire and it progressiveness.  Many names have already been received for the first entertainment, which takes place this Friday night after the regular show.  Don't miss this opportunity of being present at the best performance by both professional and local talent and at no advance in the regular prices.  If you want to spend a pleasant evening bear the Empire in mind and especially this Friday evening.    WG


04 02          New Five Cent Theatre.  The building in Main Street owned by Dr. M. O'Malley is being fitted out for a five-cent theatre.  It will have everything first-class and nothing but the best in the 5-cent theatre.  Chicago theatrical men have leased the building for five years.   WG


04 02          The change of program at The Empire which will continue for the balance of this week proves to be one of the best yet.  Freidrick & Freidrick, two roller skaters, present a very novel and interesting act that cannot fail to please.  The original Chas. King, America's favorite banjo player, singer and comedian, introduces original songs, parodies and imitations, classic selections and monologues.  Mr. King has been acknowledged by the press and public to be the King of the Banjo. The illustrated songs continue to be one of the features at The Empire and the Empiregraph motion pictures are always the best that can be obtained.  Remember the Gala Social night every Friday after the Second show.  "Local Night" three big shows in one.  More fun than can be described.  Come and see them.  "Get the Hook" always a laugh.   WG


04 16          Reduced Prices at the Empire.  Commencing Monday, April 12, the entire upper floor, balcony 5c [cents], entire lower floor orchestra 10c.  A new show every Monday and Thursday; matinees Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays; souvenirs to the ladies every Tuesday evening.  The management of the above theatre desires to thank their patrons for their support and patronage in the past, but being desirous of increasing business, have concluded to cut prices to the above phenomenal low figures.  We wish to impress on the theatre-going public that this does not mean a cut in shows.  We intend giving the same high class acts and moving pictures as heretofore, presenting only first class acts.  No one can dispute the fact that The Empire is a credit to Watertown and should be patronized, and now that the prices are within the reach of all, we positively expect to see the house packed as it should be.  You cannot dispute the fact that we have done our best to amuse you, giving the best that could be procured.  We will continue to give you all and more than you are really entitled to; but we are under very heavy expense and must have your support to keep it up.  It is up to you.  Do you want a first-class, refined, up-to-date theatre in your town or not?  Now is the time to show your appreciation.  So get busy and visit the Empire.   WG


04 30          At The Empire.  True to his word Manager Oppenheimer has provided exceptionally clever shows at the cozy Empire Theatre.  Better shows could not be asked for.  Donald Graham as a character impersonator has an act of a clean and novel nature, his delineation of a staid Scotchman being true to nature in dress and action.  The Langdons open up in a blaze of light and glory as it were, their stage setting being actually beautiful.  Their entrance in a real automobile took the house by storm and the act that followed was one of the refreshing newness and was appreciated by the audience, the amount of applause testing the strength of the artists.  They were compelled to respond to a curtain call.  Charles Ball in a budget of new songs and the Empiregraph with a new line of motion pictures completed one of the best bills seen at this popular play house this season.  Tuesday every lady who attends the Empire will be given a souvenir.  Change of program tonight.  Do not fail to see it.  Better than ever.   WG



02 08          A Fine Entertainment.  The Empire Theatre was packed to the doors last Friday evening to witness the song lecture recital by Mme. Rosa D'Erina and G. R. Vontom.  The program rendered was an excellent one, and the closing number ''Home Sweet Home,” with a piano imitation of a storm at sea, composed by Mme. D'Erina while crossing the Atlantic, captivated the audience.  A comic song entitled "Phil, the Fluter's Ball," was excellently rendered by Mr. Vontom.  The entertainment was under the auspices of the Knights of Columbus, and they certainly are deserving of congratulation for furnishing this fine attraction free of charge to the public.   WG



Little Zayda Weber, the shining light at the Empire theater last evening and Watertown's juvenile favorite, scored honors again in her song, spot light dance and frog hop, the latter being in response to a hearty encore from her many admirers.  It requires more than inclement weather and an impending storm to keep the crowd away when Zayda is on the bill, as was fully evidenced last evening in the fact that the theatre was well filled and had the weather been more favorable the house would certainly have been packed to its capacity.  Zayda is appearing before the public this week as a result of numerous requests by admirers of the clever little song and dance artist who appeared at her best last evening . . . She will appear at each performance up to and including Sunday evening . . . Preparations (are being made) for Zayda to appear again in the course of two or three weeks in an entirely different role . . .