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OK, my friend corrects me that this theater was not the one used on SMASH last night, but clearly it has been used in the past.
This theater was featured in SMASH on TV last night. Since this theater wasn’t listed properly as being on Staten Island, I tried to input the information to add a listing, but glad to see it’s here. A lot more history is available on their website:
Yes of course, but that 1849 theater is not the building on Main Street today. There was another Empire Theater between the one pictured in the 1849 photo and the opening of the current building in 1930 as well—very fancy and equal to the fine San Francisco theaters of the day. It burned in one of the many town fires. When the Elite Theatre burned down in March of 1929, I suppose the folks involved thought they should return to the name “Empire” as a way of retaining some past history when a new theater was built.
The reason the picture seems older than 1929 is probably due to the costumed parade participants. I assume a “Wagon Train Days” parade is in progress. The structure under the marquee is a built up “set” as part of the theme of the festival celebration. In another picture taken a year or two later you can see the same marquee without the set beneath it and the cars of the period parked along the street. The Empire was built new in 1929 because of a fire of the Elite Theatre that was down the street closer to the Bell Tower, robbing the town of its entertainment venue. Actually the Empire opened in the fall of 1930 with the film GOOD NEWS.
I remember the split double screen era of the Empire. Horrid. The Empire was built new in 1929 and opened in 1930 on the site of a hotel. It was built after the Elite Theater burned down. The Elite was down the street a bit, closer to the Bell Tower. The El Dorado Theater was short lived in the 1930s and couldn’t compete with the Empire, which changed its first run program of films 3 times a week. The Placerville Cinema 4 had 4 screens and basically killed the Empire as a single screen theater. The Empire ran live shows during the 1980s before the twin movie idea happened. I tap danced on the Empire stage in a show called “Berta’s Here!” in 1986. See story about the opening of the Empire and burning of
To bigjoe59 about your April 20th post: Even if it is officially true that the SF Castro Theater was built as a 2nd run neighborhood theater, it is pretty darn grand with awesome organ pipes in the walls, beautiful and detailed decor, balcony, etc. There were many neighborhood theaters (some still standing) from that era that did not get that kind of floor plan and design embellishment. I would call it a palace.
The sidewalk in front of where this theater stood still says “Del Paso” on it as part of the old entrance—a very nice memorial and grave marker.
Dear Svogar, I do hope you find a way to open the Grand. I’ve dreamed of it happening so often. I am in NYC now, but will fly back to the opening day if you ever get it opened. It would help if Del Paso Blvd. were to generally improve and become a new hot spot. An operating theater would help the area get there.
New York is full of dead theaters all over the place. This is a great article about just one very interesting strip of Broadway with a number of them. I am sad they aren’t all open and functioning.
This is a fairly typical and uninteresting movie complex. However, the big screens had curtains that opened and closed, which was surprising since the era of pre-show advertising was under way and also surprising, I went to see GONE WITH THE WIND there while all the other screens had contemporary films going. It was nice to go to this theater in the 1990s because the mall was very hip and fun. Now the mall is kind of quiet and doesn’t offer as much as it once did.
At this theatre Mae West’s play THE PLEASURE MAN had a week long try-out before opening on Broadway and the Biltmore Theatre for 1.5 performances before it was raided by the police. Because of the openly gay characters in the play it was deemed indecent. The run at this theater was the week of September 24th 1928.
The Lowes Victoria in Harlem is getting made-over for live performance says New York Times:
This theater will get a make-over and reopen for live entertainment. See today’s New York Times article:
This conversation is age-old, but what is great is that this site, for like-minded movie theater enthusiasts, is evidence that there is a public interested in the theatrical presentation of movies and seeing them on a big screen with great sound in a comfortable environment with a crowd. Comedies are ten times more funny, musicals are ten times more exhilarating and action films ten times more thrilling in a theater. Things may change, but if after all the new media that has been introduced hasn’t killed the movie going experience yet, I think it will survive. After all, even the live theater has survived. There is something important about the shared communal experience of an audience experiencing a film or a play together.
Since the last time movies were shown in this theater was 2007, this has been a remarkable turnaround. How exciting!
I was just there in the main auditorium to see LEAVES OF GRASS. The place was clean, looked fresh, smelled good and the stars of the picture were doing a talk-back after the show. The main screen retains the decor and feeling of the 1920s while the smaller screens are simple modern screening rooms. I don’t much care for the smaller screens because they don’t have much in the way of character, but I prefer them to any screen at the Angelika—those long shoebox rooms with small screens are unappealing. I very much like going to this theatre—especially if I can sit in the main auditorium. Also the lobby is beautiful.
Warren, why is it you photobucket pix links never work? I can never see any of your pix. The american classic images works though. I took this picture of the theater today. I noticed the building from the subway platform and knew I was looking at a theater. Took me a bit of time to figure out what it was originally. I love spying dead theaters and then trying to look them up on this site.
This website lists the theatre at
5677 Stockton Blvd and a recent photo shown there shows a nondescript building standing there, but you can see it’s the Manor Theatre—waiting to be lived in again.
This is from BUSINESS JOURNAL in 1998, but I don’t think anything came of it for this theatre:
Ten years ago, Warren Ilsohn and Jean Mulleian, the owners of the Fruitridge Shopping Center on Stockton Boulevard, were forced to close the aging Manor Theatre.
The theater was built in the 1940s and badly needed renovation. But lenders wouldn’t touch it. “We got numerous excuses,” Ilsohn said. “Some said it was the wrong area. They gave us the runaround.”
Now the Manor Theatre and other properties like it in the Stockton Boulevard Redevelopment Area may get a new lease on life.
Bank of America has launched a two-year pilot program to put its considerable heft behind a plan to build up the neighborhood. The state’s largest bank is committing itself to reaching out to businesses, property owners and residents who need low-interest loans to make improvements and build equity.
Read more: Reviving Stockton Boulevard – Sacramento Business Journal
Does anyone know if this building still stands today and what business occupies it? I haven’t been to the area in 15 years.
The TV show SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE had auditions in this theatre featured on the first episode of the 2010 season.
I never found this theatre uncomfortable. Perhaps the seats were improved after the 1970s. Saw my first indoor movie at age 5 there: MARY POPPINS. In the 1990s I was there all the time to see Indy and foreign films. Loved this place and it had a nice mid-century modern feel to it. It seemed a lot more 1958 than 1968 to me. One of the two screens was split and although it wasn’t so bad, it was always nicer to be in the big screen auditorium.
I just visited the theater for the first time and it is really great. Saw THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, a Fritz Lang from 1944 with Edward G. Never saw the movie before and it was quite suspenseful. I felt like I was back in time. Only disappointment was that there was no organ player that day, even though it was promised on the theater’s website. The smaller 100 seat screen is decorated to match the rest of the building and it is cute, though I would hate to see a movie there because it is hardly a “big screen” experience.
The Crest is having a big night October 16th (or thereabouts) for the showing off of new renovations and the anniversary of the opening by showing the first film shown there, “That Midnight Kiss” for the original opening night ticket price of 60 cents.
There are several news paper accounts of the seating, but the El Dorado Historical Society said 500 seats. One account in the local paper says 300, so it could be true that is was 280.