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The Park has been completely demolished. I went to the demolition sale. A friend of mine and I bought all four of the metal sign fixtures which one held etched glass signs for the restrooms and the doors leading to the auditorium. Our plans are to restore these sign housings and I will create new etched glass, and these will be reused in another historic theatre we have in mind. Another friend of mine bought a pair of freestanding display frames which were stored in an alcove off to the side of the auditorium. This same friend tried to buy a pair of the original entry doors, but the sellers would not budge on price.
The familiar neon STRAND letters from the marquee are being refurbished at an offsite location, but will be back for an encore at the theatre.
The spelling “Diamond,” below the trade publication photo, is indeed a typo. The theatre was always named DIMOND, the name of the neighborhood. This photo shows the theatre’s original, ancient Egyptian decor, which was later obliterated by the Moderne remodeling, except for the corbeled outline of the proscenium opening. at the time, the Dimond had a facade reminiscent of a temple’s pylon gateway.
Interesting to see that Gale Santocono did the work on the theatre’s remodel in the 50s. He also did the decorative work in the Seavue Theatre, Pacifica, and the Varsity, in Davis. Early in his career, he did muralwork for the San Francisco Fox.
Last year, I got a quick tour from the lady who owns the running gear store and cafe which operate in the former theatre. There is very little to see, theatrically, in the former auditorium, which is almost totally given over to retail area. Some textured stucco walls and simple pilasters clearly date to the movie era, as do several cast plaster bowl-shaped light fixtures. Backstage, there has been very little change over the years. The wooden stage surface is still there, and for the most part, the walls have never been repainted. The proscenium is walled-off from the rest of the building. The owner told me that the neon letters on the marquee are still operational.
Terry—The neon, so far as I can tell, is blue and white. I know nothing of how the auditorium interior will look, decoratively, but the lobby has a streamlined, cove-lit ceiling, and the staircase up to the second level has a nice, streamlined curve to it, with a corresponding railing. And the terrazzo pavement design in the entrance is first-rate.
Joe—Thanks so much for that glimpse into the Grand’s history.
I just heard from a friend who heard on Santa Cruz radio station KSCO that last night a driver crashed into the entrance of the Rio, taking out the ticket booth and plowing into the front doors. He then got out of the car and killed himself. More on this if I hear about it.
I recently was shown a photo of the Centre when it was new, and originally it had a two-sided readerboard which hung out over the sidewalk. Above it was a neon vertical sign, in the shape of an arrow pointing downward and toward the building. This whole assembly was mounted on the ribbed concrete “fin” on the Left edge of the facade, visible in the above color photo I took in 1982.
The facade of the Metro is essentially finished. It, and the marquee and vertical are repainted in two shades of taupe, and all the neon is back in place. Construction still continues inside. The 1920s ticket lobby ceiling in the entrance has either been preserved or carefully replicated. Through the new entry doors, one can see that the central one-third of the stenciled lobby ceiling has been faithfully replicated.
I would have to respectfully disagree with the above comment that “no significant preservation took place,” as preserving the vertical neon sign and incorporating elements from the old marquee onto the new are indeed significant. Also, the streamlined walls which house the poster cases have been exactly duplicated to match the configuration from the 1940s. But I will agree that what is on the site is essentially a brand new theatre, not a restored one.
Actually, Terry, if you look at the rendering, you can see that the existing marquee is off to the right, at the far end of the old office tower. It’s hard to see in the image because it’s seen from the back. The modern pavilion on the rendering is at the opposite end of the building from the old marquee and entrance.
Thank you, Ross. I have not run across such flamings in a very long time, but I applaud all efforts to keep this a place for civil information exchange. Thanks to Ken for keeping a vigilant eye, also.
I’m happy to say that the facade of the Los Gatos, as it’s shaping up, is on its way to actually being an improvement upon what was there before the current remodel began. The massing and proportions are well-balanced. The two porthole windows—which at first I thought might look hokey—are actually quite nice, and the new marquee structure, which actually will have a small porch on top, is neither overwhelming nor too small. Once the stucco and paint is applied, and the restored vertical sign and marquee “fins” mounted, the effect is, I believe, going to be excellent.
In a modern stadium house, I sit in the center, and as far up as I can in order to have my head as close to level as possible for the duration of the film. This says more about my middle-aged neck than anything else. I hate to say it, but unless I sit in the balcony, viewing movies in a vintage theatre can cause a sore neck by having to look a little bit upward.
Newly-discovered information: The Bay was actually built in the late 1930s. It was then called the Beach. Independently owned and operated, and designed and constructed on a VERY tight budget, it was acquired by Fox West Coast and remodeled (much improved) c. 1947.
What in heaven’s name do the two above posts have to do with the Vacaville Theatre or its restoration?
The project to convert this theatre to something else (a gym perhaps, according to a previous post?) seems to have stalled, but not before the complete obliteration of not only the marquee and vertical sign, but the entire facade, down to only the most essential structural steel members. The stage fly tower has likewise been stripped, and large holes have been cut in the sidewalls. Only the ornamental quoins which wrapped around the corners of the facade’s edge remain. It is hard to imagine that any semblance of marquee or sign will reappear on what seems to be a remodel designed to eliminate any decorative trace of the building’s theatrical past. I hope I am wrong.
The sign on the rear of the stage fly tower of the Del Mar has just been beautifully and authentically repainted. While the painting was going on, I happened to be walking by, and I told the painter in charge about a mistake that had been made in the last repainting of it, in 1985. I emailed him a photo I had from 1982, showing how the sign looked then, and he corrected the error. Also, the Diving Lady and the redwood forest vignette flanking the lettering have never looked so good in all the years I’ve seen the sign (since 1972 or so).
Actually, the family name is Enea. This theatre and the one they built in Pittsburg were called Enean.
True, but the point is, people could see “movies” at this theatre once again. Digital or Film, no matter—it’s a wonderful prospect, to think that older folks who remember this theatre as a major New York movie house can enjoy onscreen entertainment within its walls again, and young people who have no concept of what a movie palace is will get to experience the awe. When I visited it in 2002, I was flabbergasted by the excellent state of preservation of this theatre—even though it has not been restored.
Notice I wasn’t alert when drawing the letters on the marquee. I wrote PORTRERO. Yet, in the caption at the bottom of the drawing, I spelled it correctly.
Were a new theatre to reopen in the historic Aptos Village area to fill the entertainment gap left by the demise of the Aptos Twin, there would be a distant historic precedent: Aptos Village once had a little movie house of its own, called the Aptos. It vanished long before my time, and I have never seen any photos of it. I happened on a brief mention of it in a book on Santa Cruz County history several years ago.
A great photo of the original box office can be found in the book “Movie Palaces” by Ave Pildas.