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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.
I am a bit confused. I have been inside the Warner. This is not what the lobby looks like. What theatre is this?
Listed as having 474 seats in the 1949 Film Daily Year Book.
I didn’t see the film until its re-release in 1974 or ‘75, at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz. I was in 6th grade, and went with my friend Scot. We were both into Star Trek and science fiction, and we were blown away by the visual appeal of the movie. We both were growing up in homes where Classical/symphonic/orchestral music was valued, so we loved the music as well as the visual aspect. We didn’t understand the latter part of the movie, but we talked about it for weeks afterward, trying to figure out the meaning. Until the coming of Star Wars, it was the most visually rich depiction of outer space and space technology I’d seen.
I remember our tour bus driving by this theatre when I was in Athens in 1982. It was playing a movie about some kind of monster shark—clearly inspired by “Jaws.” I was unable to photograph the theatre, since our bus was passing so closely to it.
My thanks to fellow historian Jack Tillmany for finding the following today in Motion Picture News, now on Archive.com. It is dated June 17, 1927. “Pete Kyprious and associates have opened their new Strand Theatre at Sunnyvale. The old theatre was closed at once.” The old theatre referred to is the “old” Strand, formerly a nickelodeon called the Empire, which operated two doors to the South on the same side of the street. Kyprious also was part owner of the Casa Grande Theatre in Santa Clara, which had opened in 1925 at 966 Franklin Street. It was later called the Santa Clara.
The Decoto is listed as having 296 seats, in the 1949 Film Daily Yearbook. It has not been demolished. I have just updated the Street View to show the building. The only change it has had since I photographed it in the early 1990s is a new coat of paint, and the augmentation of the original, plain marquee structure with the low gabled roof-awning shown, and the removal of the perpendicular readerboard frame which was above it.
A friend of mine recently went into the building to have a custom piece of molded glass made, for that is the business that operates out of the building today. He tells me that the proscenium opening is still there, and the pressed tin ceiling is still intact.
This past January, while flying into LAX at night, I looked out my window and saw that, although the marquee of the Academy was not on, the tower was—completely operational and animating!
The interior is almost entirely gutted down to the wood frame. The marquee and vertical sign have been removed for off-site refurbishing.
I highly recommend Darkside Cinema owner Paul Turner’s book, “Prancing Lavender Bunnies,” which is a collection of essays he’s written about the world of operating an independent cinema. There are also stories of when he worked at other, older theatres as well. He really gives a sense of the nitty-gritty of exhibition. As for WHY the funny title, well, you should get the book! After enjoying my copy, I donated it to the Theatre Historical Society Archives, as I felt it gives glimpses into cinematic exhibition not detailed as colorfully anywhere else.
This can’t be a 1991 photo. The Embassy closed due to the 1989 earthquake.
Small architectural correction, as I stopped by the former Burl today: The exterior of the commercial block in front is, and always was, faced in wood, not stucco as I erroneously said in my description above.
Considerable remnants of the interior decor survive, mainly rows of Ionic pilasters along the sidewalls.
I took a close look yesterday at the storefronts which now occupy the spaces which were once the Guild and Centre theatres in the same building. Some of the terrazzo from the entrance to the Guild is still visible, partly obscured by a later wall. The whole entry terrazzo floor of the Centre’s entry is exposed, as well.
I walked by the former Centre yesterday. A very nice bike shop now occupies the space. The original terrazzo floor of the theatre’s entrance is now fully on view. Brass holes for rope stanchions are still to be seen, sunk into the terrazzo. The bike shop management has the theatre’s little safe on display. Some of the terrazzo of the Guild/Pussycat next door is visible as well, though not nearly as much as what one can see at the Centre.
It should be noted that the Metro is on the Right in the photo. The theatre on the Left is the Miami, which looks vastly different today.
Actually, I think this is the outer lobby of the Boston Opera House (ex B.F. Keith Memorial/RKO Keith’s/Savoy), not the Center’s lobby.
Were the Pagoda to be demolished, I would not feel all that badly. It is just a shell. There remain absolutely no use-specific or decorative features inside. My suggestion would be to build an entirely new structure for the transit station, and attach the old vertical sign of the theatre—repurposed to herald the station in neon or LED lettering—to the new building. The only remaining aesthetic feature of the theatre would thus be recycled and remain visible. Its Streamlined profile would fit the image of mass transit nicely.
The lower part of this end of the proscenium arch, especially the decorative frame at its base (for a vaudeville annunciator board that was perhaps never installed), can be clearly seen repeatedly in the 1936 Charlie Chase short, “Neighborhood House.” The movie also shows numerous shots of the seating area, auditorium doors, and outer lobby and entrance doors, as well as a closeup of the marquee, and the pillars of the entrance below it.
Jack Tillmany, early CinemaTreasures contributor, historian, Theatre Historical Society co-founder, and theatre owner/manager, began his career in exhibition at this theatre.
I just discovered this fact. I’m honored! :-D
Nice to see from the photo that the new theatre has a vertical sign. I’ve noticed Century is building them on their new theatres. The Century in Newark, CA has a vertical that was clearly inspired by that of the Millbrae, in Millbrae. The Century in Pleasant Hill has a sign and tower clearly inspired by the Orinda. Nice to see some architectural pizzazz being created.