Constructed as the Bedford Theater by circus promoter William Washington Cole. Cole quickly renamed the theater as the Empire Theater. The cornerstone for the building was laid on 20 June 1891, in a ceremony overseen by the Brooklyn Order of Elks.1
The Empire first operated as a traditional theater under the direction of Johnson and Washburne, and in its first years was accused of flouting of laws prohibiting theater performances on Sundays with performances aimed at German audiences.2 In 1896, the theater was renovated and reopened as a vaudeville and variety venue ("with the occasional burlesque") under the management of Hyde and Behman.3
The rear of the theater was removed ca. 1901 for the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge. Following the removal of the rear part of the theater (including its stage), the building was slated to be converted to a knitting factory by Messrs. Plate and Clark.4 Apparently this conversion did not happen, as in 1906 the Ford Motor Company leased the building from the Hyde and Behman Amusement Company for use as an automobile garage.5
- 1. "Empire Theater Will Be Turned into a Factory", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 15 February 1903, 45.
- 2. "A Parody on Parkhurst: Presented to a German Audience in the Eastern District", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 7 May 1894, 12.
- 3. "Empire Theater", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 6 September 1896, 4; "Empire Theater Will Be Turned into a Factory", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 15 February 1903, 45.
- 4. "Empire Theater Will Be Turned into a Factory", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 15 February 1903, 45.
- 5. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 24 November 1906, 40.
101 South 6th Street