The Embassy in Fort Wayne: One Theater's Story


The history of the Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is a typical story of an American movie palace: rise, fall, near-destruction, and rebirth.

Downtown Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre opened in 1928 as the Emboyd Theatre. The largest theater in Fort Wayne, it was built for movies and vaudeville, with a seating capacity of 2,970, a large stage, and a Page theater pipe organ. The theater building also contained the seven-story, 150-room Indiana Hotel – convenient to the nearby Pennsylvania Station.

On opening night, for the price of 60 cents, guests saw the silent film “Easy Come, Easy Go,” along with vaudeville acts and music from the organ and a full orchestra.

The Embassy soon made the transition to sound pictures; over the years, the theater also presented major performers such as Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Tony Bennett.

In 1952, the theater and hotel were sold, and the theater’s name was changed to the Embassy. Business declined in the '60s as new movie theaters were built in outlying shopping centers. The owners closed the hotel in 1971.  In 1972, they were two days away from demolishing the entire building and putting up a parking lot when local volunteers in a “Save the Embassy” campaign raised the $250,000 needed to halt the destruction.

The Embassy Theatre Foundation then took over the restoration, maintenance, and operation of the theater and  kept it going – with a variety of concerts (including the Fort Wayne Philharmonic) and other events.

In 1995, major renovations brought the theater up to the standards required by large touring companies. Seating capacity was reduced to 2,477: 1,395 on the main floor and 1,070 in the balcony, plus wheelchair sections.

Today, the Embassy Theatre continues to host regular concerts, special events, and the Broadway at the Embassy series.

Embassy Theatre Website

       

 

        

 




The Embassy Theatre