Imperial Theatre, 1918, Augusta

The Imperial Theatre was designed by Lloyd Preacher and nationally prominent theatre architect Claude K. Howell for Augusta entertainment entrepreneur Jake Wells. Howell was influenced by Louis Sullivan, as the Sullivanesque style would suggest. It opened on 18 February 1918 with B. F. Keith’s Supreme Vaudeville Company as the house troupe. On 18 April 1918 Charlie Chaplin appeared on the stage selling Liberty war bonds.

A quarantine brought on by the 1918 flu pandemic caused the shutdown of all public spaces in downtown Augusta by early autumn and this created financial difficulties for Wells, who sold the theatre to Lynch Enterprises. The quarantine was soon lifted and by the end of the year the Wells had become the Imperial.

The theatre underwent a partial remodel by Roy A. Benjamin in 1936 and continued to show films until 1981. It reopened as a performing arts space in 1985 and is presently undergoing further renovation.

Broad Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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