Oaks Theater

1875 Solano Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94707

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Oaks Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1925, the Oaks Theater was restored by the Renaissance Rialto chain in 1994.

From February 2005, it was taken over by Metropolitan Theatres. It was taken over by an independent operator in early-2010 and screened first run and Bollywood films.

Sadly, it was closed in late-December 2010.

Contributed by frenchjr25@hotmail.com

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

thomasgladysz on December 19, 2009 at 4:58 pm

As this page notes, the Oaks opened September 15, 1925. One of the very first films to screen at the theater after its opening was “The Street of Forgotten Men,” which showed at the theater from September 23-26, 1925. The film, which still exists, is remembered today as the first film in which silent film star Louise Brooks had a part.

The Oaks was a second run theater in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Other Louise Brooks films which screened there, after initially showing elsewhere in Berkeley, include

“The American Venus” (May 13, 1926 with “The Timber Wolf”)
“A Social Celebrity” (Sept. 3-4, 1926)
“It’s the Old Army Game” (Oct. 10-11, 1926)
“The Show-Off” (Mar. 3-4, 1927)
“Now We’re in the Air” (Jan. 22-23, 1928)
“The City Gone Wild” (Jan. 18-19, 1928 with “Rose of the Tenements”)
“A Girl in Every Port” (June 17-18, 1928)
“Beggars of Life” (Feb. 24-25, 1929)
“Canary Murder Case” (June 23-24, 1929)
“God’s Gift to Women” (July 22-24, 1931 with “Woman Hungry”) **
“When You’re in Love” (June 17, 1937 with “Tundra”)
“King of Gamblers” (Sept. 11-14, 1937 with “The Singing Marine”)

** As far as I am aware, “God’s Gift to Women,” made its East Bay debut at the Oaks.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 14, 2010 at 9:04 am

Cinema Treasures gets a mention in this article about the uncertain future of the Oaks Theater.

CSWalczak on April 7, 2010 at 8:50 am

The Oaks has new operators according to this article: View link

The theater’s new website is http://www.berkeleyoaks.com

CSWalczak on April 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm

The new owners want to add Bollywood fare and change the refreshment stand offerings: View link

CSWalczak on January 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm

The Oaks has closed again; the owner is again looking for new managers: View link

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Thanks for all the pictures.Looks like a nice theatre.

misterken on April 17, 2012 at 11:18 am

Sad when this local community theatre closed. I enjoyed not only the movies but also the lit marque at night.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

AndrewBarrett on October 1, 2014 at 7:49 pm

I am very glad to see this theatre still standing and I do hope it will open again before too long.

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, the “Oaks Th.” in Berkeley, California had a two manual Leathurby-Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1925.

Further information on the organ, such as size (# of ranks), and blower information, is not given in the book.

Does anybody know what happened to this organ or it’s parts, and where it is/they are today? Thanks!

Also, if anyone has photos of the organ chamber(s) in the theatre, that would be great!!!

Would the current owners be amenable to allowing a visitor to come and take pictures of the organ chambers in the closed theatre, if they’re still present?


jordanlage on September 6, 2016 at 11:59 pm

Saw a few movies at the Oaks in my time, but the only ones I remember was a double-feature of Don Taylor’s “Tom Sawyer” the musicalized version from 1973 I believe, and right after it, John Sturges’s “Joe Kidd” with Clint Eastwood. These would have been second or even third runs of these films. I saw this double-feature in July or August of 1973. Joe Kidd was released in July of 1972; Tom Sawyer’s release date was March 1973. I’ve always liked that the Oaks was perched prominently at the top of Solano Avenue in Albany (Berkeley), and looked forward to seeing what was on the marquee as you drove west out of the Northbrae Tunnel. That it’s closed now (and McCallum’s ice cream!) significantly diminishes the allure of the Solano Ave commercial district. Should Pegasus Books fold that will be the end of my visits to that neighborhood.

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