San Francisco, CA - Richmond district’s historic 4-Star Theatre, still without a buyer, offered for sale on Craigslist

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on January 5, 2017 at 9:33 am


From The Richmond district’s 4-Star Theatre, a longtime San Francisco movie theater built in 1913, has been on the market since June 2015 without a serious buyer. At the time, it was being offered for $2.8 million, but now, over a year and a half later, a listing for it has been posted to Craigslist in hopes of attracting anyone who will continue to operate the two-screened establishment as a theater, or else develop it into “a church, school, event space, fitness center – subject to conditional use approval.” The Craigslist posting currently does not list a price, but advises interested parties to call for more information.

Story link:

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Comments (10)

bigjoe59 on January 5, 2017 at 12:29 pm


the last thing we need is another condo tower for spoiled Silicon Valley yuppies. so since the 4 Star is I believe the oldest in continual operation movie theater in the U.S. it should at least be preserved as a revival house.

terrywade on January 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm

This old cinema is way to small even for a neighborhood theatre. Many people have a larger screen in their home. The owner does not advertise his other two cinemas in SF like the Presidio or the Marina Theatre’s in the newspaper on what is playing and the times. Any one who buys the place is not going to run It as a shoe box cinema they want the land only. If MR Lee the owner want business to boom put a small word ad in the Wed,Friday & Sat SF Chronicle as so many people have no idea these cinemas are still even open. Don’t run the same big opening films the larger multiplex places are showing show some new movies that the other big chains in SF are not booking. Who want’s to see a blockbuster on a tiny screen at the 4**** with no place to park.

stevenj on January 5, 2017 at 9:14 pm

I think the strangest thing about this story is the attempt to sell an historic 114 year old movie theatre for nearly $3million on Craigslist. Lee Neighborhood Theatres does have a website and it seems they are also trying to attract neighborhood Chinese and Russian residents (who still have communities in the Outer Richmond Dist.). Housing is badly needed all over SF but I doubt the tech types would gravitate out towards the beach, far from freeways to Silicon Valley and in a neighborhood not nearly as gentrified as some on the east side of the City.

Lee Theatres

I’ve also posted author Jack Tillmany’s history of the 4 Star (from 2013) for the Western Neighborhood’s Project on the CT 4 Star page.

bigjoe59 on January 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm


i know we can’t preserve every old building but if i am correct in stating that the 4 Star is the oldest in continual operation movie theater in the U.S. it should be preserved as a landmark.

stevenj on January 6, 2017 at 9:21 pm

I agree but my understanding is that landmarked buildings in SF usually need to still be pretty much intact with (at minimum) original exterior architecture. The 4 Star’s exterior has been changed several times.

From online research, the Roxie (1909) in the Mission Dist. is the oldest continually operating movie theatre in San Francisco. Linked is a blog from CT on the oldest continually operating US theatre:

Oldest US

A couple of posters on that thread say there are others as early as 1906 still in operation in other cities.

The Victoria Theatre (1908), also in the Mission and just a couple of blocks away from the Roxie, is the oldest continuing operating theatre in SF. It has presented vaudeville up to 1933, movies until the 60’s, burlesque until the late 70’s, dark, then reconstruction and renovation in the early 80’s and since then films, concerts and stage events.

bigjoe59 on January 7, 2017 at 2:18 pm


were the Roxie and Victoria which are certainly older than the 4 Star opened as movie theaters? if opened as theaters showcasing something else
they don’t count. for instance the Victoria has had many interesting lives in its 109 years but has not opened continually as a movie theater since the day it opened.

also the theater in Pryor,OK. is out of the running as the oldest movie theater in the U.S. in continual operation since the day it opened since according to the info at top it didn’t open till 1917, 4 years after the 4 Star.

stevenj on January 7, 2017 at 4:18 pm

This quote is at the top of the page on the Roxie’s home page:

“The Roxie is the oldest continuously operated cinema in the United States, and the second oldest in the world!”

Roxie website:


Yes, the Victoria opened as a vaudeville house and not consistently shown films throughout it’s history but it is one year older than the Roxie and is SF’s oldest operating theatre (according to it’s webpage). Only the South San Francisco Opera House is older (1888) but is primarily used for neighborhood events and not many at that (and not movies).

After re reading the blog page I linked above the last post says the El Rey (Majestic) in Chico, Calif opened in 1906 and still showing films. But it’s website says it also has concerts and events and “occasional films”.

bigjoe59 on January 8, 2017 at 2:24 pm


just out of curiosity as the Roxie ever shown “adult” films? if so that would knock it out of the running. i don’t care if it was a 2nd run neighborhood house or a a first run venue i am looking for the oldest theater that opened as a movie house and has been in continual operation as such ever since.

just in case you were wondering the oldest in continual operation movie theater in NYC is the Alpine in Brooklyn which opened in 1921 and has been in continual operation ever since.

stevenj on January 9, 2017 at 1:08 pm

bigjoe59 the Roxie is a true survivor. It has nearly closed at least twice in the last 10 – 15 years, saved by creative people who think outside the box. In fact, the 49 seat Little Roxie was opened several years ago 2 storefronts away from the Roxie and both are now run as independant non profits. Recently the SF voters passed Prop J – the Legacy Business Registry in response to so much loss of long time SF businesses due to gentrification and building owners selling to developers for housing. The Registry’s aim is to help non profits like the Roxie stay in business with perks/financial help to the building owners and non profits themselves. The fact that it showed (16/35mm film) porn at one time is irrelevant. If it had been presenting live (porn) stage acts only you’d have a point.

bigjoe59 on January 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm


true porn produced 1968-1975 was on film so that shouldn’t knock the Roxy out of the running for the title of the oldest in continual operation movie theater in the U.S.. many small movie theaters around NYC about the same time for lack of a better term resorted to showing porn because that was all they could get. so the title of the oldest in continual operation movie theater since the day it opened i think would be more meaningful if it didn’t need to resort to showing porn to pay the rent.

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