Imperial Theatre, on the scene for 109 years
Posted on November 25, 2022 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
The Imperial Theatre was constructed in 1912 by an American vaudeville theatre chain, Keith-Albee-Orpheum and its Canadian subsidiary Saint John Amusement Company. Located on King Square in Saint John, New Brunswick, it was said to be the “finest theatre in Eastern Canada”. It began as a venue for live performances and film and celebrated its grand opening on September 19, 1913, with a gala featuring local actors.
The four-story brick and concrete building was designed specifically for live performances and contained Italian marblework, English porcelain and artisanal lighting. Built as a response to the rising popularity of tourism and the entertainment scene, it’s believed to have housed performances by Ethel Barrymore, John Phillip Sousa and Harry Houdini.
Over time, entertainment preferences shifted towards television, which resulted in the closure of Capitol Theatre. The building was sold to American sisters Carro and Susie Davis for $166,000, who donated it to the Full Gospel Assembly Pentecostal Church. Renovations were completed and the Imperial Theatre became a place of worship.
The local community stepped up and together, citizens helped reach the fundraising goal (seats in the theatre include names of each contributor). Architect Douglas Kochel was hired for the $11.3 million refurbishment project and after 11 years the Imperial Theatre was restored to resemble its original design. The theatre celebrated its grand re-opening on May 24, 1994.
After 109 years, the show goes on at Imperial Theatre.
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