The Marina Theater is reborn

posted by CSWalczak on May 5, 2008 at 10:55 am

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — It’s sort of a cross between a reincarnation and a re-opening, but there’s once again a functioning Marina Theater in San Francisco on Chestnut Street. This San Francisco Chronicle article describes the fight to save the theater space and keep it as a cinema, although only a portion of the exterior appears to be what remains of the original theater.

The Marina, 2149 Chestnut St., originally opened in 1928 – to see what it looked like in April 1956, check out the big black-and-white photo of it at Bechelli’s ‘50s-style diner next door to the Presidio – and eventually became the Cinema 21 in the 1960s and was bought by Century Cinemas. The theater seemed doomed when Century joined United Artists, Regal Cinemas and other corporations in dumping their single-screen neighborhood movie houses to focus on multiplexes.

Walgreens wanted the space, but met opposition from a Marina neighborhood association, Chestnut Street merchants and the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation headed by San Francisco Giants executives Alfonso Felder and Jack Bair. By 2004, a compromise was worked out between Walgreens, the community groups and property owner Ray Kaliski. The drugstore chain agreed to give up half of the building, and the rest would become the theater.

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