Empress Theatre (Montreal)
|The Empress Theatre|
|Alternative names||Cinema V|
|Architectural style||Egyptian Revival architecture|
|Location||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Address||5560 Sherbrooke Street West|
|Owner||City of Montreal|
|Design and construction|
|Other designers||Emmanuel Briffa|
Built in 1927 and designed by Joseph-Alcide Chaussé, with interiors by Emmanuel Briffa, it is the only theatre in Canada designed in the Egyptian style (inspired by the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb). Opened as the Empress Theatre, the building was a vaudeville theatre for burlesque and first-run films. In 1962 it was a dinner theatre called the Royal Follies. In 1968 it became a two-tiered art-movie cinema called Cinema V-Salle Hermes. In 1974 it was briefly named The Home of the Blue Movies and in 1975 it became Cinema V, a repertory cinema. In 1988 it was acquired by Famous Players and showed first-run films. In 1992 a fire caused damage to the theater resulting in its permanent closure.
The abandoned building is slowly deteriorating and its perimeter fenced off. In 2005 community organizers opened a small one room office on the ground floor (left corner of building; location of a former health food store) as a headquarters for the building's restoration. The office was closed by the city in December 2011, leaving the building vacant.
Geordie Productions , Black Theatre Workshop, McGill Music Conservatory and the City of Montreal planned to restore the building. The estimated cost was $11.8 million. The theatre was to be used for performance and visual arts and included a café/art gallery and a 246-person concert hall. It was to be home to Geordie Productions and Black Theatre Workshop, and the McGill Conservatory planned to use the theatre for its music program.
In August 2010 the provincial government pulled funding and announced ownership would be returned to Montreal by November. Residents of NDG formed Renaissance Empress, dedicated to preserving the theatre and transforming it into a cultural centre, and delayed the move. On August 15, 2011 the city seized ownership.
In January 2012, the borough of N.D.G. announced any non-profit group with a plan for the building present it by May 11, 2012. The city stated it will not provide any funding for the building.
On September 5, 2012, the borough voted to accept Cinema NDG's proposal. Their plan is to open a movie theater with four screening rooms and set aside 20% of the building for commercial use. Restoration of the building is estimated at $12 million. Cinema NDG was originally given until December 31, 2013 to find financial backing, but was granted two extensions, extending the deadline until September 30, 2015. The building continues to deteriorate.
- "Cinema V". Montreal Images. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
- LEMIRE, ROBERT. "Chaussé, Joseph-Alcide". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica-Dominion. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
- CA (2009-03-17). "Empress Cultural Centre waiting for funding so construction can begin — Cultural activities — Arts — The Chronicle". Themonitor.ca. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- O'Hanley, Stephanie (March 3, 2005). "Cinema V gets new lease on life". Hour magazine (Montreal: Communications Voir inc.). Retrieved 21 December 2009.
- "CTV Montreal — Hopes for Empress spotlight to shine again — CTV News". Montreal.ctv.ca. 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- O'Hanley, Stephanie (February 14, 2008). "Cinema V building to become new cultural centre". Hour magazine (Montreal: Communications Voir inc.). Retrieved 20 December 2009.
- Heffez, Alanah (2008-09-09). "Photo du Jour – Empress Theatre " Spacing Montreal". Spacingmontreal.ca. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- ANNE SUTHERLAND, The Gazette : (2010-08-17). "City of Montreal taking back the Empress". Global Toronto. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
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