Empress Theatre

The Empress Theatre

1980

The Elliott family lovingly restored the theatre to its 1950's appearance. Its golden clouds returned along with its original name, the Empress.  The building's exterior was repainted and the "Empress Theatre" sign was painted into the pediment.  Its window panels were uncovered and refurbished, seats from Fox Theatres were salvaged and installed, gympsum decoration was re-gilded, and period-appropriate carpeting was laid.  The Empress thrived throughout the decade.

 

1989

On Tuesday October 17, the Loma Prieta Earthquake, measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale, shook the San Francisco Bay Area; the Empress Theatre was not spared.  Causing an estimated $6 billion in total property damage, this earthquake was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history up until that time. To repair damage from the quake and make the building seismically safe for use was a task so monumental that it caused the theatre to sit vacant and derelict for nearly 20 years.