Comments from Sal44

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Sal44 commented about Rita Theater on Feb 4, 2009 at 7:15 pm

I grew up in Valljeo from 1947 to 1965. I have read and heard various stories about the number of indoor movie theaters that once flourished, many of them 24 hours a day during and after World War II, and those sotries indicate either nine or 10 theaters open and operating at the same time.

And that’s not counting drive-in theaters.

The Vallejo Auto Movies, with separate screens, parking areas and box offices for two theaters. Located at the intersection of Benicia Road and Rollingwood Drive/Glen Cove Road, adjacent to four cemeteries, Carquinez, St. Veincent’s, All Souls, and Skyview Memorial Lawn, the Vallejo Auto Movies closed around 1992. After more than 10 years of neglect and decay, the site was demolished around 2003.

The Crescent Drive-In opened in 1948 on Flosden Road near American Canyon Road and was eventually purchased by United Artists. It was demolished a few years ago and became part of the housing subdivision of American Canyon.

Of the indoor theaters that I can (barely) remember, I think that there was a movie house on Sonoma Boulevard near the California National Gaurd Armory at Chesnet Street (Theater No. 1). It was possibly called the Chesnut (?). There was another theater on Sonoma Boulevard (Theater No. 2), near Kentucky Street, on the northeast corner of the intersection, but I have no recollection of a name for that venue.

The original Empress opened in 1911 (Theater No. 3), at its present location of 338 Virginia Street. In 1912 it became the Republic, in the 1930s it wss the Vallejo, and in 1951 it was renamed the Crest. It reopened in the 1980s once again as the Empress. In 1989, following the Loma Prieta earthquake, the theater closed in need of seismic refitting.

The Empress now has a web-site which indicates that the theater is once again open for business.

Across the street from the Crest (300 blcok of Virginia Street), were two movie house, the Crown (Theater No. 4) and the Rio (Theater No. 5). Most of that lot eventuallay became a downtown parking lot.

One block east (400 block of Virgina) was the Hanlon (Theater No. 6 – I think). One block south on Georgia Street were two theaters, neither of which has a name in my memory. On the 300 block of Georgia was a theater (theater No. 7) that became the Gallenkamp’s hoe store, and at the foot of the lower Georgia Street hill (200 block of Georgia) was another movie house (Theater No. 8) that was demolished before the start of the major downtown renovation project of the 1960s that produced the new post office and the John F. Kennedy Library.

The last indoor theater to survive—and may still be in opeation—before the advent of the multi-plex theaters in the shopping centers, was the El Rey (Theater No. 9) located near the intersection of Tennessee Street and Broadway.

The Rita (Theater No. 10) was located at Georgia Street and Solano Avenue, near the Municipal Courthouse. It became Taylor Auto Sales, Porsche and Audi in the 1970s.

And there may be more of which I have no knowledge or suspicion.