Haight Theatre

1702 Haight Street,
San Francisco, CA 94117

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sfinthe80s
sfinthe80s on November 15, 2014 at 2:39 am

I used to live around the corner from this theater. I had moved to the Haight in the early 80’s and by the time I moved into my first floor apt on the corner of Cole and Oak, the theater had already been demolished. For years it sat as an empty lot, partitioned off by chain-link fence and plywood, and I was blissfully unaware what had previously occupied that space. Its just as well since being a cinema major, I would have been grieving at the loss of such a beautiful theater and probably would have held vigil there everyday on my way back from class.

The Haight in the 80’s was not exactly a mecca for movie screens. Yes, there was the Red Vic, but quite honestly, it sucked. I had no idea of what the inside of the Haight looked like, but it probably would have made a great repertory theater. Sad loss. The next to fall after that was of course the I-Beam.

bicyclereporter
bicyclereporter on May 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm

do you still have the fixtures or pics?

terrygalli
terrygalli on May 5, 2012 at 7:14 am

wow what a trip to find this. I grew up in the haight from 1962 to 89 . my father started the protest against the gay theater I remember making signs in our basement and carrying them in front of the haight. I was there the last day it was a real theater.it had been renovated and it was the first day of the grand reopening and when the movie was over some kid through an apple through the screen and all of the sudden all the kids went crazy and tore the place up. I also smoked my first joint with janis joplin there when I was just eleven years old she said here you go little dude. how could I say no to her.before they tore it down me and my brothers snuck in through the roof and we took old light fixtures and I had the carpet from the lobby in my bedroom for years and the chandelier from the girls bathroom. many many memories there it was awesome. for a quarter I saw sword in the stone three times in one day.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 30, 2011 at 8:30 pm

According to Variety, an attempt to run the Haight as an arthouse catering to gay audiences in 1964 met with community outrage and police harrasment. The experiment lasted less than a month.

bicyclereporter
bicyclereporter on December 24, 2010 at 11:10 pm

The Grateful Dead played here on July 23, Sept 29/30 1967

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 19, 2010 at 10:18 am

The Haight Theatre is listed among works attributed to architect Otto A. Deichmann in the 1956 edition of the AIA’s American Architects Directory.

As the Haight was built in 1937 I would assume that Deichmann’s partner of that period, Mark T. Jorgensen, was also involved in the project. I’ve been unable to find a listing for Jorgensen in the AIA’s online historical directory. It’s possible he was not a member of the organization.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Very true Dramatrama.I could tell you some stories from my theatre days.Saw a lot of stuff.

Dramatrauma
Dramatrauma on July 7, 2009 at 1:19 am

Well, both those things (maybe less getting stoned if were talking pre 1950s) have been happening in the back rows of Cinemas for any number of decades.

Scott
Scott on February 13, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Thanks, robertgippy, for that uplifting story. If only there was a theatre in my town today where my kids could go to get stoned and have “free” love in the balcony. I think you’ve captured what American cinema should aspire to.

robertgippy
robertgippy on January 10, 2007 at 3:25 pm

My dear departed friend Jack Reynolds, managed the Haight Theatre in the early 60’s. The interior of the theatre was very similar to the Uptown. As a ex flower child of peace, love and not war, I remember when the Haight became the Straight. The vertical marquee was painted with flowers and “delic” 60s colors at the time. The main floor seats were removed, and we would go in there for the best rock concerts ever. We went in there once to see a movie and were given a blanket to lie on the floor with. The pot smell was everywhere, free love in the balcony, who could ask for more? Later it was a church and sadly shuttered for good. My favorite memory there was going in stoned, and saw Phil Spector hanging with Margo St. James of the famous Coyote. A buddy of mine and I spoke with them. We just discussed the Straight a few minutes ago, and a buddy said “kids now days don’t know what they’re missing”. The Haight, along with Winterland, are now San Francisco pasts, but lives long in our memories.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 22, 2005 at 9:02 am

According to the web site “Shaping San Francisco,” the Haight/Straight Theatre was demolished in 1981.

The SSF site also has this picture of a rainy Haight Street in 1944, with the moderne bulk of the Haight Theatre looming in the middle distance.

The Haight-Ashbury district also once had a circa 1910 theatre called the Supurba, located at 1660 Haight Street. I don’t know whether or not it is listed at Cinema Treasures under some other name.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 12, 2005 at 10:28 pm

From the SF Public Library:

View link

ReggieWilliams
ReggieWilliams on October 27, 2005 at 6:38 pm

You can join the on going story by logging on to thestraight.com as mentioned or Straight_Theater_Presents.com Home of “The Straight on the Haight” where you will find pictures, words and sounds of the Straight Theater inside and out featuring many of the wonderful people from this outrageous era. I found the abandoned Haight Theater early April 1966. After being built as a vaudeville and movie house in the WWI period it was shuttered in 1964 then briefly enduring as a Gay Theater, radio station, and a African American Church. With the help of friends, after changing it’s name to Straight, hosted some of the greatest bands, poets, performing, light show, and graphic artists, mixed media, and film of the 60’s. I was left with the Theater late in 1968 and finally closed its doors in June of 1969. Although valiant efforts were made to re open the again shutter venue it never happened and fell to the wrecking ball as mentioned above. Thanks for the continuing interest.
Love and Peace
Reg E Williams

davidkaye
davidkaye on January 14, 2005 at 2:40 am

I’m in error; it was replaced by a Goodwill store, not St. Vincent de Paul. But it was the late 1980s, as evidenced by the architecture of the building that replaced it. The name was changed (somewhat) from Haight to Straight in 1967, but I’m not sure how official it was.

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 14, 2005 at 2:19 am

I lived just a couple of doors north of the STRAIGHT Theater in San Francisco from July, 1972 through December 1973 or so, and the theater was boarded up and closed during that time. The last time I saw it was around 1980 and it was still boarded up. I understand there were indeed rock concerts held there a couple of years before I arrived. It was supposed to be really run down when the hippies arrived and some actually camped out in the theater. Some rats got into the pitch dark and dank theater and that sort of finished it off, from what I was told.

davidkaye
davidkaye on November 30, 2004 at 8:23 am

The theatre with the couches was the Red Vic, originally located in the store space of the Red Victorian hotel/gift shop on Haight and Belvedere Streets and founded in 1980. The Red Vic movie theatre left the Red Victorian building in 1991 and moved to its present site on Haight Street between Cole and Shraeder Streets. Unfortunately, they didn’t bring the couches, but the current bench and cushion seating is fine.

I recall the Haight Theatre being demolished in the late 1980s when it was replaced by a giant hole, and eventually by a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.

jwood
jwood on November 20, 2004 at 5:28 am

I lived in SF in the eighties, and occasionally went to a theater on Haight Street that a bunch of old sofas instead of seats. I’d thought it was called the “Haight”, or maybe the “Haight Street Theater”, but I honestly can’t remember. It was a repetory theater, of course, and had the best concession stand around. You could buy homemade sandwiches, pastries, brownies, etc. All in all, a pretty cool place that could only exist where it did. Anybody remember this theater, and know it’s name?

Tillmany
Tillmany on June 28, 2002 at 11:47 am

The Haight was built in 1919, although extensive later remodelling belies this fact. It was operated by Golden State Theatres up until the time of its closing (as a film theatre) on 22 September 1964. As noted by other contributors, it continued to function as a part of the Haight/Ashbury counter-culture well into the 1970s. The mis-captioned photo of its facade crumbling to the ground on page 219 of America Goes to the Movies is from my collection, but should properly be credited to Greg Gaar, who spent an afternoon in 1979 (not 1964) perched on a fire escape across the street waiting to preserve the “moment” for posterity.

GaryParks
GaryParks on April 26, 2002 at 4:14 am

To verify my earlier comment: The book, “The Haight Ashbury—A History” which came out in the mid 80s, contains numerous references to the Haight/Straight Theatre, and has several pictures of it inside and out. The exterior matches the photo displayed above, though later the letters were removed from the marquee and vertical sign when renamed the Straight.

GaryParks
GaryParks on April 26, 2002 at 4:10 am

The Haight was NOT demolished in 1964. This idea may have been gleaned from one of the recent books on old theatres—I’ve run across this demolition date in print before, but the fact is that the theatre was converted into a rock concert venue around the time of the “Summer of Love” (1967) and eventually renamed the “Straight”. Many of the famous rock bands of that era from San Francisco played there. The main floor was leveled with a parquet surface for dancing. The theatre was pulled down in the 70s. A store now occupies the site.

William
William on February 14, 2002 at 9:38 pm

The Haight theatre seated about 1310 people.

William
William on February 14, 2002 at 9:12 pm

The Haight theatre was demolished in 1964.