El Capitan Theatre

2353 Mission Street,
San Francisco, CA 94110

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Showing 26 - 49 of 49 comments

William on February 29, 2008 at 2:06 pm

The El Capitan Theatre was part of the Fox West Coast Theatre chain and the biggest in the Mission District area (It tried to be like the like one of the Market Street houses). There is about 3-4 houses in the general El Capitan area.
Grand Theatre 2655 Mission Street
New Mission Theatre 2550 Mission Street
Rialto Theatre 2555 Mission Street

Granada Theatre 4631 Mission Street

There are two excellent books on the theatres in San Francisco and Oakland by Jack Tillmany. Who has posted many excellent comments about many of the theatres in the Bay Area.

kencmcintyre on February 29, 2008 at 1:45 pm

If I’m in San Francisco looking for theaters, are all these old theaters on Mission pretty close to each other? Or is Mission one of those eight mile long streets where the theaters are far apart? Let me know. It seems like there are quite a few relics still surviving on this street, in one form or another.

William on February 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Up until the late 80’s / early 90’s the vertical sign was still intacted on the front of the building above the marquee.

KenRoe on February 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Here is a photograph I took in February 2005. Looking straight through the former foyer, you can seen the car parking lot:
A couple more photographs I took, showing the entire front of the building. The auditorium was parallel to Mission Street, with the screen end at the far right, behind the theatre’s apartment building:

tomdelay on February 29, 2008 at 12:01 pm

As I stated above, the organ from the El Cap was slated to go into the Indiana Theatre in Terre Haute, IN. The organ is due to be finished and played at this summer’s ATOS convention in Indiana.

KenRoe on February 29, 2008 at 11:48 am

You drive under the marquee, through the foyer and…..there you are, on an empty space, used as a parking lot!

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 29, 2008 at 11:47 am

Exactly right. It is just a facade.

kencmcintyre on February 29, 2008 at 11:38 am

The facade is still standing. The auditorium is gone. I think there’s a parking lot behind the facade.

HowardBHaas on February 29, 2008 at 11:34 am

How can it be a “recent” photo if the theater is demolished?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 29, 2008 at 11:27 am

Another recent photo can be seen here.

seymourcox on October 27, 2007 at 12:35 pm

When the United Nations was razed did the marquee move over to this house?
View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 23, 2007 at 4:18 am

Here is another photo of the former El Capitan.

kencmcintyre on March 18, 2007 at 2:25 pm

Here is a 1985 photo by Michael Putnam:

tomdelay on December 20, 2005 at 8:25 pm

Ed Stout was more than correct about the “open toe” voicing of the organ. This was an average size organ trying to fill a large theatre with sound.

This organ has since been removed from the Fox-California Theatre in Salinas and is to now be installed in the 1922 Eberson Indiana Theatre in Terre Haute, Indiana. This will replace the similar, but much earlier Wurlitzer style 235 that once lived in the Indiana.

The organ will be installed by the Central Indiana Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society.

kencmcintyre on December 20, 2005 at 5:32 pm

This 1944 photo from the SFPL shows what appears to be a theater based on the vertical and the marquee. That being said, I have never heard of a theater being called “El Patio”:

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kencmcintyre on December 20, 2005 at 4:33 pm

Here is a photo from 1928:

View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 18, 2005 at 1:24 am

That is the exact same photo link that I posted on Jan 9, 2005 at 1:42pm.

kencmcintyre on October 29, 2005 at 12:43 pm

From the SF Public Library website:

View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 9, 2005 at 10:42 am

There is a photo of the El Capitan Theatre here:
View link

EMSIII on June 26, 2004 at 11:58 pm

I always enjoy reading the comments from Gary and my good friend Jack Tillmany. The Wurlitzer in the El Capitan was a style 235, of three manuals and eleven ranks of pipes. That organ had “open-toed” voicing to fill the huge auditorium. I remember the piano being in the pit. Edward Millington Stout

Tillmany on November 30, 2003 at 4:27 am

El Capitan opened on June 29, 1928 with Patsy Ruth Miller in
We Americans, a second run attraction. It was built by
Ackerman, Harris and Oppen at a cost of $1,250,000.
Boasting 2578 seats (not 3100 as noted above), it was the
largest and most opulent of the many Mission Street houses,
and the first to bring second run films in wide screen CinemaScope to the Mission Street neighborhood in the late fall of 1953.
Unfortunately, its size and grandeur, with inherent operating costs,
soon became a detriment rather than a benefit, and it soon fell victim to the inroads of television. It closed first on
July 24, 1956; re-opened on May 1, 1957, offering 3 features at
reduced admission prices, and then closed permanently on December 15, 1957.

GaryParks on January 11, 2003 at 1:28 pm

As of this writing, the Wurlitzer organ from the El Capitan is installed in the Fox California, Salinas, and has been used on a number of occasions.