“Hurriquake” Fast-Forwards Facelift for Empire Theatre 

click to enlarge Richmond’s recent natural disasters threatened to fracture the facade of the Empire Theatre downtown. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Richmond’s recent natural disasters threatened to fracture the facade of the Empire Theatre downtown.

When you’re 100 — well, 99.7 — years old, things start to fall apart. Especially if you’ve been bounced around a little bit.

Engineers discovered serious stress fractures in the facade of the Empire Theatre on Broad Street after the recent “hurriquake,” as Bruce Miller, artistic director of Theatre IV, calls it. Part of a wooden window frame crashed to the sidewalk, Miller says, and “there were other pieces of the building that were threatening to fall.”

So the theater company decided to speed up the renovation project it had planned for the 100th anniversary of the theater, coming up at Christmas. Workers have started removing the existing facade and restoring the original, classically columned look.

The Empire, one of Virginia’s oldest theaters, was modeled after the storied and now demolished Empire Theatre in New York City, Miller says. In the 1930s, a renovation “made it this sort of flat, white-bread building.”

The city’s Commission of Architectural Review has approved the renovations, Miller says. The project will cost about $500,000 — money Theatre IV has not quite finished raising. “So now we’re working a little bit on faith,” he says.

Nevertheless, the new-old look should be complete by Nov. 25, opening night for “My Fair Lady,” Miller says: “It’ll once again be the landmark it deserves to be.”


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

  • Re: Richmond Schools Superintendent Defers Questions About Federal Investigation

    • "Richmond Public Schools could eliminate discrimination and more effectively ensure safe and orderly schools through…

    • on April 23, 2017
  • Re: The Brain-Makers

    • I was cured of HIV with the used of natural herbs. My name is Sarah…

    • on April 21, 2017
  • Re: First on Earth

    • Dominion power is poisoning the James River by dumping it's toxic coal ash waste in…

    • on April 21, 2017
  • More »
  • Latest in News and Features

    More by Melissa Scott Sinclair

    Copyright © 2017 Style Weekly
    Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
    All rights reserved
    Powered by Foundation