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Empress Theatre

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1927. 535 Second Ave.

Although bizarrely reinterpreted by a landscape mural depicting the Alaskan wilderness on its second-story front facade, the Empress Theatre remains important because of its concrete construction and its association with Austin “Cap” Lathrop. In 1927, Lathrop had this movie theater built as part of his chain of theaters throughout Alaska. As fire is a constant concern with theaters, he had it built of steel and concrete.

The first floor of the facade has been altered by a new storefront, but the second floor retains two round-arch windows and a denticulated cornice. The theater, which seated 670 people, was one of the largest buildings in town and repeatedly used for large gatherings. It served as a movie theater until 1961, when it was converted to a drugstore.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Empress Theatre", [Fairbanks, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 217-218.

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