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True story: During the war years (WWII), while dad was overseas and mother had left with another man, we lived with grandma and grandpa. On Saturday afternoons, grandpa would drop us off at the local theater, named “The Home Theater” on Quindaro Boulevard, about a mile or so from our house on 27th street. We would watch a serial, several cartoons and the main feature. It was usually dark outside when we were ready to come home.
On the Saturday that Frankenstein was shown (1945, I think), they advertised that Frankenstein would be at the theater in person.
I was about six or seven and my sister was 18 months younger. After the Tom Mix serial and the cartoons, Frankenstein, the movie started. About midway through, the film stopped and the theater went dark. A spotlight focused on the stage in front of the screen. Out walked a man leading a remarkable realistically made up Frankenstein’s Monster. Immediately, a hundred kids began screaming. The monster walked down the steps with hands straight out in front of him, with that stiff-legged limp, just as he did in the movie.
As he walked up the aisle, kids by the dozen ran before him in delicious fear.
My sister turned to me and said “Jim, I’m going!”
I thought she meant going to the well-lighted lobby where many kids were now heading.
Wrong! She meant HOME! and safety.
She was no more than five or six at the time and she ran all the way home. After the movie was over and I couldn’t find her, I was starting to panic! (Maybe Frankenstein’s Monster did get her!!!)
I went out to the car to tell grandpa the tragic news and there sat Judy, happy as a clam, eating popcorn.
How a five or six year old girl was able to run more than a mile in the dark, making correctly making several turns onto poorly lighted streets still amazes me to this day.
Grandpa later teasingly asked her, “How did you know Frankenstein wasn’t following you?”
Judy replied “I never looked back!”
This link shows a postcard street scene with the Electric marquee visible on the right side.
The link below talks about the ‘original’ Electric being torn down and replaced by new theater in the Spanish Renaissance style around 1922.
This article talks about the Electric being built in 1906
So there were two theaters on the same site.
Scroll down to the end of this article to read about a 94 year old woman’s memories of the Harding.
From a male friend who worked at The Oakland Tribune in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The newspaper morgue (library) was located in the old theater. I asked him what he remembered:
“Actually they had a false ceiling but I do have some memories of the storage area where the photo dept was. That was up in the rafters sort of and it was a cubbyhole type area. Until they moved out the false ceiling I don’t think you could have seen it. The remodel was cheesy and they did a good job of making it ugly. I understand the women’s bathroom was great but of course I was never let in.”
The url below about the Granada & the Boller Bros. lists the Art Theater at 1808 Central Avenue. View link
Updated url for historic information View link
A postcard from the 1950’s with Avenue sign on the right (in the distance). View link
Interior photo View link
An architectural website about the building that currently occupies the site says: “The 3,000 seat Electric Theater, built with a full orchestra pit in 1902 for vaudeville (before silent films) saw its final curtain call followed by a wrecking ball in 1969.” Was the Boller Bros. theater a remodel?
There is a boring multi-plex on the Plaza now.
Restoration Hardware occupies the site. If you’re not familiar with it, they sell home decorating items, not screwdrivers or saws.
The Long’s Drugstore that currently occupies the building is scheduled to be closed.
California Theater under construction in 1920.
It was built in 1909 as Luke’s Nickelodeon. It supposedly contains the original fully functional stage. The city of Berkeley wants to tear it down to provide parking for the police parking enforcement office next door.
An article on the re-opening is located here: View link
There were also two articles in the Kansas City Star but you have to pay to read them.
Article about the purchase View link
Any chance of a website with pictures of the restoration? I spend many happy days (Saturday kids matinees) and evenings there in the 50’s.
Also, history of the theater is located at this url.http://www3.wycokck.org/static/planning.zoning/HISTORY2004/GRANADATHEATRE.pdf
Another article on the closing View link
If you compare the picture of the bakery with the ones located at the other links, it’s obviously the same building or at least the facade.