Wilson Theatre

1545 Fulton Street,
Fresno, CA 93721

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Wilson Theatre

Opened in 1925, the architect was H. Rafael Lake. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer, 3 Manual/11 Rank theatre organ that was shipped from the Wurlitzer factory on 11th April 1925. This organ was taken out the Wilson Theatre and installed in the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Cremorne, Sydney, N.S.W. Australia in 1987 (/theaters/848/).

From the early-1940’s it was known as the Fox Wilson Theatre, operated by Fox West Coast Theatres. The Fox Wilson Theatre closed as a movie theatre in August 1971.

By 1986 and for several years though to at least 1996 it had become a rock concert venue. It is now home to the Cornerstone Church who purchased the building in 1997 and the building has been well maintained, retaining all architectural features.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

tomdelay on May 1, 2006 at 8:44 am

Interesting. The Wilson was the primo house in Fresno for a short period of time. There was no comparison of the Wilson to the older, 1917 Liberty Theatre over on Van Ness. However, when the Pantages (now Warnors) opened almost across the street from the Wilson, the Wilson took a back seat. The Pantages was and is a big city movie palace in every sense of the term. Pricteca’s design in the auditorium may have borrowed from his other designs in San Francisco and San Diego, but the Fresno Pantages/Warnors remains at the top of the heap.

The Cornerstone Church which took over the Wilson a number of years ago, is to be commended for the great job they did in bringing back the Wilson.

kencmcintyre on June 27, 2008 at 10:04 pm

It looks like 1545 Fulton is the church offices, but not the theater. The theater address is closer to 1445, as seen in the photo posted on 11/6/05.

kencmcintyre on February 23, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Here is part of an August 1971 article from the Fresno Bee:

The Wilson Theater, which closed last weekâ€"after the final showing of a movie called “The Last Run"â€"is expected to have its doors reopened in a few months, but not without some major changes. Beset with similar problems to those plaguing the Wilson, two other major movie houses shut their doors early last year.

Wilson manager Robert Smith said a change in movie format and audience appeal is planned in hopes it will recharge sagging theater attendance. Plagued by legal and financial problems, the other major downtown theaters, Warnor’s and Hardy’s, both owned by Trans-Beacon, closed their doors simultaneously in January 1970. The non-renewal of the theater exhibitor’s lease at the Wilson, held by National-General, Inc., caused the closing of the theater but Smith said the building’s owner plans to contract with other theater exhibitors and to schedule the reopening of the theater in the “near future.”

Commenting on the closing, Smith said, “National-General operates other theaters in the area (the Crest and Tower theaters) and they felt they should concentrate their efforts at these two theaters, rather than spread it out any further. "We (the Wilson) haven’t had good attendance with the type of shows they are turning to, which are primarily R and X rated. We feel we could have more success with family type shows.”

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Wonder if the WILSON THEATRE played “WILSON” the bio-pic on President Wilson?

TLSLOEWS on May 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Very nice photos and nice marquee slideshow posted by Cakeight.

Mikeyisirish on December 18, 2012 at 7:22 pm

A 2011 photo can be seen here.

DavidZornig on November 3, 2016 at 12:12 am

May 1964 photo added courtesy of Paul Sheinheit.

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