Parkway Theater

1834 Park Boulevard,
Oakland, CA 94606

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Interior of the Parkway (downstairs stage)

Originally a single screen movie theater which opened September 23, 1925 with Reginald Denny in “I’ll Show You the Town” & Larry Semon in “Kid Speed”. It has a Spanish Renaissance style exterior and the interior is in Egyptian and East Indian styles. Seating is in a stadium plan, with a raised stepped section at the rear of the auditorium rather than the usual balcony. It was equipped with a theater organ which had a single organ chamber located above the proscenium. In later years it became a suburban art house cinema, twinned, and served beers and pizzas.

Sadly closed on March 22, 2009. In April 2019 it was announced it would reopen in 2020 as a marijuana dispensary, which will also feature movies, concerts and special events.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 33 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 20, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Great pictures and newspaper ads.

LBorg
LBorg on February 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm

My Uncle Lawrence Borg, was one of the owners of this theatre, purchasing it in 1926, and selling it in 1931.

LBorg
LBorg on February 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm

http://iliketheparkway.com/ Local group in Oakland trying to re open the parkway

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on October 27, 2012 at 11:42 pm

This theater is going to sort of be “reincarnated” at a new location on 24th Street in the Uptown district in a former factory. View article

wc
wc on November 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm

I loved the old Parkway Theater. I ran the projectors there in the early 1980’s It’s a lovely building. Unfortunately we got a lot of thugs and one of my friends, Leslie Martin, was murdered there. That was before they set up the movies and pizza arrangement. I used to climb all over the inside of that place. Especially into the old organ loft above the screen in the old main theater. I wonder what happened to the Wurlitzer organ that used to be there?

robertcampbell
robertcampbell on April 20, 2019 at 6:50 am

Good News! According to today’s San Francisco Chronicle, the Parkway will be re-opening as a marijuana dispensary which will include movies and “notoriously stoner friendly” events such as art shows, and concerts. It is said that the theater will reopen on or before January 2020.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 11, 2021 at 1:30 pm

how was this theater twinned? was there a balcony which became the 2nd screen?

walterk
walterk on February 14, 2021 at 12:22 pm

HowardBHaas, your timing couldn’t have been better to add your comment. I’ll explain that further below. Regarding the second screen, it was in the old loge/balcony according to a couple of early comments. It was twined in the 70s

I’ll add here that Parkway closed in 1990. The building was eventually sold and the new owners renovated the auditorium; in the orchestra, the seats were removed, the floor leveled and new stage built.

The new owners rented the spaces out and, for a few years, the main auditorium served as a venue for rock and roll shows, raves, and other events.

In 1996, Catherine and Kyle Fischer leased the Parkway and spent several months refurbishing it, opening as the Parkway Speakeasy Theater in January, 1997.

As I live about 15 minutes from the Parkway, I decided to take a drive by this morning to check on the status of the building: it’s still boarded up. However, there was a large “Notice of Application” sign on the front. I pulled over to read, and this was for a request to the city Planning Commission to obtain a “minor conditional permit for group assembly, commercial activity and a theater”. The Commission meets this Wednesday at 3pm to consider the request.

Below that, was a poster for an open house to be held at the Parkway tomorrow from 3 to 6pm. Social distancing will be enforced and masks are required. I’ll be attending this event.

The Parkway also has a new website:

https://www.1834park.com/

Right now the info there includes a copy of the case file the Comission will consider, detailed building plans for the renovation, and a few current pictures.

walterk
walterk on February 16, 2021 at 4:03 pm

I attended an open house at the Parkway yesterday, curious about the status of the planned cannabis retail store and theatre restoration. Access to the auditorium wasn’t allowed because of safety concerns, but we could look into the orchestra through one of the back entrances. I’ve uploaded a photo of its current state.

There were two people present to answer questions. I spoke with Hilary, who is the General Manager, she gave me an update. As I mentioned last week, there is a Planning Commission meeting February 17 to decide on issuing a conditional use permit, which is crucial for the restoration to proceed. Assuming the permit is granted, work will proceed on the cannabis store, which is scheduled to open in March.

Work will then begin on the theatre. According to Hilary, the project is estimated to take at least a year and a half and cost around $2 million. The full extent of what’s needed to be done isn’t fully known yet, as things always pop up once work has started. When it closed in 2009, the previous operators thought it would take $500,000 to fix the building. It was mentioned then that the roof leaked and buckets had to be put out in the auditorium when it rained, since it closed it’s been vandalized numerous times and a fair amount of copper was stolen. The list goes on…

The most notable feature of the restoration will be the Parkway’s return to its single screen configuration: the second screen in the old loge/balcony will be removed and the balcony restored.

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