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Several months ago, in mid-2014, I drove out to the site of the Atlantic. Not only is the building gone without a trace, but there seems to be no sign of future development at the site, not even a sign proclaiming the construction of a library, or anything, there. I’m wondering if the neighborhood has become the victim of a development scam of some sort, a promise of a library, and preserved portions of the theatre, only to be left with nothing. I hope not. I’ll be interested to see if anyone has any news.
The above photo is from the Jack Tillmany Collection, and was posted with his permission.
Correction: I took this photo Summer, 1984.
Minor correction: Closer comparison of this photo with the preceding photo from before Lee’s remodeling shows that the Baroque-ornamented Loge seats were already in place before the Art Deco transformation. They would not have dated to the theatre’s original opening, however, as that aisle standard pattern did not exist in 1918.
This image shows what would, in 1942, have been a new paint scheme. The original decorative painting would have been more ornate. It can be seen that, by this time, the organ had been removed, and the orchestra pit filled-in, to provide room for a few more extra rows of seats. Shiny, floral-patterned fabric fills the organ grilles, and a swirling painted pattern encircles the central chandelier. Perhaps the term “Venetian Gothic” best sums up the original style of this interior.
Mid-1940s photo by Ted Newman. From the Jack Tillmany Collection. Posted with permission.
Congratulations! I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
I have not been to the Del Mar since the new improvements, but, looking at photos of the new carpet, I’m quite amazed. Not only does the new carpet pick up the colors of the lobby ceiling, but many of its motifs and patterns as well. And that’s not all: The patterns even evoke some of the decorative borders which existed in the auditorium ceiling mural, which hasn’t existed since 1990. Obviously, a lot of thought was put into the choice of carpet.
Renovation of the Strand proceeds apace. It is still at the heavy construction stage, but is starting to move toward the more white-glove aspects of the process. The large theatre has had its new concrete risers for seating, as well as the balcony, framed and poured. It is now possible to get a good idea of how the space will appear. Restoration work on the original auditorium ceiling and sidewalls has not begun yet, but they are still there, with their simple cornice moldings and ornamented ventilation grilles preserved. Lest anyone be disappointed that there is no historic proscenium visible in the reconfigured house, be assured that there was nothing back of the later screen left to restore. The plaster of the proscenium all fell off the concrete in the Loma Prieta Quake, and had simply been covered by a quick troweling of plain plaster. The new proscenium is quite a few feet forward of the old, though structurally, the old one still exists in concrete form. Speaking now of the forward portion of the building, the views out the upper story windows of the Market Street scene are going to be wonderful. Originally this vantage point was available only to the people who lived and worked in the Strand, now many people will get to enjoy the view.
Until the present renovation, the chamber for the Strand’s organ was still in existence onstage. It was obviously a later addition. It stood Stage Right, and was accessed by a conventional door. The openings where the swell shades had been were still there, though blocked by tongue-in-groove planks. The chamber was used to house Mike Thomas’s film collection, during his tenure as the Strand’s operator.
As the painter who did the accent painting around these ladies, it was my pleasure to revivify them for the public’s enjoyment.
Having heard Jack Tillmany’s stories of the Lorenzo under his tenure from the source, it is clear that Jack actually made a lot more money than he supposedly lost by not admitting kids under 16 without a parent. At the time he took the operation of the place over from UATC, it was a haven for wild teens and younger kids. Adults, by and large, had ceased going there. It had become, essentially, a babysitting facility. The doors had been removed from the bathroom stalls to keep kids from smoking in them. Once Jack started his policy, he put the doors back on the stalls, gave the place a thorough cleaning, and, since he had good dealings with distributors, got films with huge appeal—revivals, and titles that were more recent, but were favorites with proven track records. He would advertise as having Exclusive Bay Area Showings, and, indeed—it being the era before video, he did a fantastic business. People literally came from all over the Bay Area to the Lorenzo, because they knew they would experience good presentation in a clean, comfortable, and well-behaved atmosphere. NOTE: The photo of the vertical sign tower and marquee I posted is scanned from a slide I took in Summer, 1984, when the theatre sat closed.
Actually, one of the two original auditorium buildings made it into the early 1990s as a single screen. It was then twinned, with FXC Communications—a company run by (the late) John Bondi—a former Fox West Coast executive—doing the work and equipping the venue. Ever the showman, John insisted that both new screens be equipped with plush, red waterfall curtains.
As originally designed and opened in 1920, the Growers National Bank space was the tallest part of the development, in the center, with identical storefront wings on either side. The bank portion would eventually become the Campbell Theatre, but the ORCHARD CITY THEATRE was located, in 1920, in the left-hand wing of the complex, two doors down from the bank. Accompaniment to the silent movies was at first done with piano, either live or rolls, but in 1924, a Wurlitzer organ was installed. Today, the storefront wings survive, along with the bank/Campbell/Gaslighter Theatre portion. The left wing which once housed the Orchard City Theatre still sports its original white glazed brick facade, but the right wing wears a coat of smooth stucco, applied long ago. the one photo I have of the Orchard City (from the Jack Tillmany Collection) shows no marquee, just an indented ticket lobby, with poster cases and an octagonal box office.
Before its remodeling, this was the UA Pruneyard, a triplex, with large auditoriums which had open beam ceilings.
While the Fox Peninsula may be gone, the little Egyptian Revival fraternal lodge hall in the foreground on the right still stands.
An earlier post talked about a 1930s renovation of this theatre according to a design by F. Frederic Amades, and then listed other theatres he worked on. I would like to add that he also designed the Parkside Theatre (Fox Parkside) at 19th and Taraval.
Correction: Pacific Restaurant, not fish market.
Excellent tinted postcard of the rear auditorium wall, which has otherwise never been shown in a publication, to my knowledge.
We attended “The Amazing Spiderman 2” last weekend. This theatre is a dazzler! T
hey did it right. There is a seamless blend between old style and new presentation. No—the auditorium murals were not reproduced, which is disappointing, but there are authentically replicated old style Art Deco fixtures and features galore which would be at home in any movie palace of 1930. There is a waterfall curtain, comfortable seats, beautiful carpet, small, but beautifully-appointed restrooms, LED cove lighting…and even the theatre’s old Ten-O-Win wheel, which is displayed over the staircase landing. The staircase railing is a beautiful Deco custom design.
We saw “The Amazing Spiderman 2” last weekend there, and yes, this little theatre is a dazzler. They did it right! And…they even have a waterfall curtain! Not only that, but the theatre’s old Ten-O-Win wheel is on display over the staircase landing.
We stopped by the theatre this evening. It is about to reopen. All the neon, LED lighting, and interior were lit up. The effect is stunning. I strongly recommend that all who are nearby do so. We are looking forward to patronizing this theatre.
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.