The Charline McCombs Empire Theatre was built in 1913 on the site of the former Rische’s Opera House in downtown San Antonio, Texas. Designed in the style of a European palazzo by architects Mauran, Russell & Crow of St. Louis, the Empire operated as a vaudeville house and then a motion picture theatre.
The Empire’s grandeur was prematurely concealed by inappropriate repairs due to extensive flood damage in 1921. After a long, slow decline, the vaudeville house, turned B-run movie theatre, closed its doors in 1978.
Redeveloped as part of the neighboring Majestic Theatre project, fundraising efforts by Las Casas Foundation, a local non-profit organization, restored the forgotten luster of the interior of the theatre, and the venue reopened as the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre in 1998 after $5 million in renovations. The Empire is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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