Santa Maria Theatre

207 South Broadway,
Santa Maria, CA 93454

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Santa Maria Theatre

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The Santa Maria Theatre was opened either late-1927 or early-1928. This 1,236-seat single screen movie theatre was twinned in its later days of operation.

Contributed by Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

scottfavareille
scottfavareille on September 5, 2006 at 5:27 pm

This theater was once the jewel of Santa Maria. It was demolished for an extension of the Santa Maria Town Center Mall.

bonnach
bonnach on September 15, 2008 at 3:42 am

I saw my first movie there. It was huge, and right in the middle of town. Santa Maria has very little sense of history unless there is money in it. I’m surprised the Santa Maria Inn hasn’t been turned into condos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

The April 23, 1927, issue of Building and Engineering News said that L. A. Smith had prepared plans for a 2-story and part 3-story theater to be built at S. Broadway and Church Street in Santa Maria for Principal Theatres Inc..

Frogger75
Frogger75 on November 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Wow! Memories and more memories, this was a great theatre, tucked in right along broadway, I remember seeing “Born in East LA” there back in 87'. The entire block was historic and it’s an absolute travesty what happened to it. This whole block was torn down so we could have a shopping center with a foot bridge that crosses over broadway and connects the mall to the shopping center. The shopping center is mostly vacant and Mervyns, the biggest store that was there, has been closed and empty for ten years. It’s the Santa Maria version of “the bridge to nowhere”. Bonnach nailed it, almost all of the things that made Santa Maria a nice quaint little town, like the SM theatre, have been bulldozed and replaced with strip mall garbage.

Flix70
Flix70 on January 23, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I’m pretty sure this was the theater I saw Rocky IV on Thanksgiving night in 1985. My first and only visit as I was in from out of town for the holiday visiting family. I remember it being kind of small and intimate, not a venue with 1200 seats.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm

The Santa Maria Theatre must have been twinned in its last years, which is probably why Flix70 remembers it as being smaller than 1,200 seats. Check the 1983 photos linked earlier. The signage on the building didn’t specifically claim two screens, but there are two different movies on the marquee, each with the same starting times. There had to have been two screens.

bobbydias
bobbydias on March 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Maybe not referring to twin screens. The Santa Maria had the regular screen plus a cinerama screen for some special type of movies. Also, the upstair seat area was closed for some years because of safety concerns- the bottom area seated only 973 if a notice in the office was correct(I went there to sign a waiver of responsibility of my safety because the owner was afraid somebody would sue him if I got hurt at one of my all-girl get togethers). bonnach said: “Santa Maria has very little sense of history unless there is money in it.”– The guy running the museum(Chamber of Commerce building) runs it to suit his financial needs by changing history if the price is right.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm

As I noted in an earlier comment, architect Lewis A. Smith was commissioned to design the Santa Maria Theatre for Sol Lesser’s recently-founded Principal Theatres circuit in early 1927. However, as completed the house was designed by the architectural firm of Balch & Stanbury for the West Coast circuit, in which William Fox had recently gained a controlling interest. A photo of part of the lobby of the Santa Maria Theatre can be seen at upper right on this page of the December 28, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News, which featured a portfolio of Balch & Stanbury’s theater designs.

The August 12, 1927, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor noted a project in Santa Maria for West Coast Theatres that was to be designed by architect Carl Jules Weyl. As the Santa Maria opened as a West Coast house, it is likely that the chain had taken over Lesser’s project, which was to have been at S. Broadway and Church Street, the location of this house.

I don’t know if anything survived from Smith’s or Weyl’s designs after Balch & Stanbury took over the project. I also don’t know what ended Lewis Smith’s career. It has previously been erroneously reported that he died in 1926, but his page at the Pacific Coast Architecture Database, which once included the error, has since been corrected to say that he died in 1958. From the late 1910s through 1927 Smith was one of the most prolific theater architects in Los Angeles, but he appears to have left the profession suddenly at that time, and I’ve found no evidence that he practiced architecture after 1927. A number of his commissions from 1927 ended up in the hands of Balch & Stanbury, and the Santa Maria Theatre was one of them.

AndrewBarrett
AndrewBarrett on September 28, 2014 at 6:07 pm

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ”, pg. 629, the “Santa Maria Th.” in Santa Maria, California, originally had a two manual, nine rank Leathurby-Smith theatre pipe organ, install date not known (at the time of publication in 1989), and blower info also unknown.

Does anybody know what happened to this organ? Thanks!

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