Esquire Theatre

323 E. Main Street,
Stockton, CA 95202

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The Yosemite Theatre was opened around 1893. It was remodeled by architects Weeks & Day in 1920 and re-named State Theatre.

Listed in the 1941 & 1943 editions of Film Daily Yearbook as the Fox State Theatre with a seating capacity given as 1,510. In the 1950 & 1952 editions it is the State Theatre with a slightly reduced seating capacity.

Following the closure in 1954 of the towns' Esquire Theatre, the name was transfered to this theatre.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

spectrum
spectrum on September 8, 2007 at 8:46 pm

The book “The Show Starts on the Sidewalk” does list S. Charles Lee as doing the remodeling in 1936.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 12, 2009 at 9:20 pm

The June 5, 1954, issue of Boxoffice had information about the State Theatre, as well as other theaters in Stockton:

“The Fox State in Stockton closed last week. The oldest public showhouse in Stockton, the Fox State was originally known as the Yosemite. Negotiations are reported underway for leasing of the property by Joseph Blumenfeld of Blumenfeld Theatres. Blumenfeld has reported that if the deal goes through he will move the Esquire Theatre to the State site. Blumenfeld’s Sierra was recently closed to make way for two new stores, and the Esquire is scheduled to be closed to make room for the new J.C. Penney store.”
I don’t find the Sierra or the Esquire listed at Cinema Treasures yet. I’ve found the Yosemite Theatre cited in the California Index as early as 1913.

The Index also contains references to a number of other Stockton theaters not yet listed at CT, including a National Theatre, a Rialto Theatre, a Lyric Theatre, a Roxy Theatre, a Garrick Theatre, a Hippodrome Theatre, and an Avon Theatre. Some might not have been movie houses, and others might be only missing aka’s for listed theaters, but I think most are just missing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 12, 2009 at 11:16 pm

The California Index has several cards about the National. It was built by the National Theatres Syndicate in 1931, located on Main Street at Stanislaus Street, and designed by the San Francisco firm Bliss & Fairweather. It was closed for a while in 1935, but Motion Picture Herald of May 18 that year said that it was being reopened by Joe Merrick of San Francisco. It was mentioned again in the February 2, 1936, issue, but the Index provides no details on that one.

The problem is I can’t find the National mentioned in Boxoffice at all, which makes me wonder if perhaps its name was changed.

I did come across a very interesting item in the April 24, 1967, issue of Boxoffice which said that the old Star Theatre on lower Market Street was being torn down after 50 years. It was the oldest surviving movie house in Stockton, and the last of four old movie theaters which had once thrived in the south end of downtown, the others being the Lincoln, the Imperial, and the Liberty.

I recall seeing this neighborhood in the late 1960s, just as they were beginning to demolish it for an urban renewal project. It was a splendid section of several square blocks of substantial masonry commercial and residential buildings. Glimpses of the area can still be seen in the original version of “All the King’s Men” in which Stockton sat in for Baton Rouge. The area appeared in a number of other movies as well, the last of them probably being John Huston’s noirish boxing movie “Fat City” which was filmed during the latter part of the demolition period.

spectrum
spectrum on October 12, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Checked the Google photos – Looks like it has been razed. The surrounding parking lots are now underconstruction with a new urban complex – very well designed – at first it looks like a series of old-style retail buildings. If only more modern urban construction looked like this.

ksutterfield
ksutterfield on November 29, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I have many memories of Stockton’s Esquire Theatre. It was sandwiched between the Ritz and Fox Theaters on Main St. I started working as a doorman at the esquire in 1960 when I was 16 years old. It was a great place for a kid still in high school to work as I had to stay until the last movie was over to close the theater and lock up, so I had lots of time for home work. I continued to work there until June 1963 when I joined the military. I believe the Esquire (or State) theater started life as a vadavile theater as it had an extensive back stage area behind the movie screen. Also dressing rooms and a large area above the stage for stage hands to work. Does anyone have any photos of the Esquire?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 30, 2009 at 2:32 am

ksutterfield: I’ve been searching Boxoffice Magazine for info about the Esquire, which is apparently not yet listed at Cinema Treasures, but so far I’ve only found a few references. The May 18, 1946, issue mentions in passing that the Esquire Theatre in Stockton was “nearly completed.” Work was delayed, though, and a short article in the December 14 issue that year announced that the Esquire had finally opened after thirteen months of construction.

The house had cost $200,000 to build and equip, and would be Stockton’s fourth first run theater. Boxoffice gave the seating capacity as 1190, and described the auditorium as being decorated with fluorescent murals having a Chinese theme. The article didn’t give the name of the architect, but the mention of blacklight murals makes me wonder if it might have been designed by Gale Santocono, who was very active at the time and used blacklight in theater decorations frequently. Even if he wasn’t the architect, he might have done the decoration for the Esquire.

I’ll keep looking for more info, but I don’t think Boxoffice ran any articles with photos of the theater. If they had, I’d probably have found them by now.

ksutterfield
ksutterfield on December 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Thanks Joe, the Esquire theater I worked at was the renamed and remodeled Fox State Theater (see your Aug 12th post above). The only photo I’ve ever found of the Esquire is a post card I found on the internet.

Ken

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 10, 2010 at 1:09 am

I’ve come across something about the State Theatre that doesn’t fit in with other pieces of information I’ve found, especially the information from Boxoffice I cited in my first comment of August 12, 2009.

A 1922 issue of the architectural journal Pencil Points ran an article about movie theatres penned by architect Emil M. Mlinar, a former associate of C. Howard Crane. Among the illustrations is a photo captioned “Proscenium of Loew’s State Theatre, Stockton, Cal. Weeks & Day, Architects.” The photo is recognizable as the same theater in the photo from the S. Charles Lee collection to which I linked in the second comment on this page.

So, assuming that the magazine didn’t make a mistake, the State Theatre opened as a Loew’s house, and was designed by the same firm as the Loew’s State in Los Angeles and the Loew’s State in Oakland. I can’t find a Loew’s State listed for Oakland at Cinema Treasures, so either it isn’t listed or it’s listed under another name and is missing the aka. The Fox in Oakland was designed by Weeks & Day, but I’ve never seen anything suggesting that it was ever a Loew’s house.

The volume of Pencil Points with the photos can be seen at Google Books. Here’s the link to the Stockton photo. Scroll up a few pages to see the Oakland photo.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 31, 2011 at 6:28 am

The Yosemite Theatre opened either in 1892 or 1893. The conversion of the house into the State Theatre took place in 1920. In a column listing projects in the works for 1920, the December, 1919, issue of the San Francisco-based professional journal The Architect & Engineer included Weeks & Day’s remodeling of the Yosemite Theatre in Stockton. The projected cost was $130,000.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm

A photo of the original, San Joaquin Street entrance building of the Yosemite Theatre, probably taken in the 1890s, can be found at the very bottom of the Stockton Theatres Over the Years page on Wright Realtors' web site. There is also a photo of the original proscenium arch with its advertising curtain.

Farther up the page (theaters are in alphabetical order) there are photos of the Main Street entrance of the house as the State and as the second Esquire.

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