Cinema 1 Theatre

363 Main Street,
Salinas, CA 93901

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

DavidZornig on May 15, 2017 at 9:07 am

1955 photo added courtesy of Ed Johnson‎.

DavidZornig on September 16, 2016 at 10:10 am

1944 photo added courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page.

Dramatrauma on March 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Great shots Chuck. Ack this just kills me. I assumed from the state of things outside that the place was derelict and falling apart. And the only things in truly bad shape seem to be from water getting in SINCE the last closure! Those leaks arent repaired and teh place will just rot away when it seems to be so utterly restorable!

LBorg on February 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Dear Armstrongproductions. Please feel free to contact me. I am andrew. my email is I would love to help you. I may only be able to provide pictures. I am trying to locate drawings and such.. I look forward to hearing from you

ArmstrongProductions on November 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Hi L Borg, I am wondering if you would happen to know where I could find a copy of the original blueprints for the El Rey in Salinas? I am working on possibly purchasing and refurbishing the theater and my contractor would like to find a copy of the plans. You can email me off list if you would like: Thanks!

LBorg on February 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Hello All.
My Uncle, Lawrence Borg Built the El Ray.

in 1928 he became half owner of the Crystal Theatre Lease and Business in Salinas, California.

View link

Under the Name of Crystal Theatre Company, , Inc., and was president of the corporation which in 1935 built the El Rey Theatre in Salinas.

View link

This corporation was dissolved in 1941, after which he was owner of half of the Crystal Theatre lease and business and El Ray Theatre property and business. In 1953 the Crystal Theatre property was sold, although he maintained a one-half interest in the El Rey Theatre until the close of his life.

Uncle Lawrence Also built the Alisal Theatre in Salinas in 1947


and was part owner of that property with John Peters and Fox West Coast Theatres until he sold his interest in 1949.

CelluloidHero2 on June 21, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Thanks Chuck! Your name will be displayed! It will be posted on 6/22

ChuckParker on June 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Hi John:

I don’t mind at all, as long as I get credited for the photos! I appreciate your asking first, and thank you for including them in your blog. Have a great day :)

CelluloidHero2 on June 19, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Chuck, is it okay if I add your link above to my film blog. I was out in CA. just a week ago and came across the Cinema 1 theater (and the Fox California). I am looking to post some of my own photos on my blog next week and would like to add a link to your great photos.

Below is my blog

ChuckParker on May 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Update: I was fortunate enough to be invited to take a tour inside the El Rey/Cinema I on May 6, 2010. Complete photo journal with commentary can be found at the following link. Hope you like it!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 19, 2010 at 5:25 am

The original 1935 owners of the El Rey were Lawrence Borg and John Peters. Later the house was taken over by Fox West Coast. In 1949, FWC departed and Borg and Peters resumed control of the house, according to Boxoffice of September 3 that year. Borg was noted as still being the operator of the El Rey at the time of his death, notice of which which was published in Boxoffice of November 13, 1954.

John Peters must have been related to William Peters, noted in multiple Boxoffice items of the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s as operator of the El Rey at Manteca. robertgippy’s comment of January 31 this year above says that the two El Rey theaters were built by the same family, and were of very similar design.

William Peters was the original owner of the Manteca house, built the year after the Salinas El Rey. Manteca’s El Rey was designed by architects Otto A. Deichmann and Mark T. Jorgensen, so it seems likely that the same architects designed the Salinas El Rey as well, though I’ve been unable to find a source confirming it.

kencmcintyre on April 17, 2010 at 5:18 pm

That’s a good one.

SalinasKid on April 17, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Here’s a view of the El Rey in the 1950’s.

View link

SalinasKid on March 6, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I have a color photo of the exterior of the El Rey, circa 1950. How can I upload the photo to the site?
Salinas Kid

robertgippy on January 31, 2010 at 3:47 pm

The El Rey supposedly is an exact duplication of the El Rey in Manteca. The verticals are similar, with the word theater on top, and the box office entrance is identical. I’m very curious if the interior murals were the same. I had the pleasure of being in the Manteca El Rey, these theatres were built by the same family.

Michael D. Jackson
Michael D. Jackson on April 24, 2009 at 11:50 pm

I used to go to the El Ray (Cinema 1) in 1986-87 when it was a dollar theater and saw KING LING LIVES. It was always showing horrid movies like that, but for a Hartnell College student on a budget you couldn’t beat the dollar admission. I always loved the interior and thought it was such a treasure. My friends and I always dreamed about going into The Fox Theatre, but it was always boarded up. The cineplex at the local Salinas mall is horrible, so it would be grand to have movies again in the El Ray (change the name back) and The Fox. My grandparents lived in Salinas, so I grew up visiting in the summers and Christmas and always rode my bike by those theaters to dream about going inside.

Michael93901 on November 20, 2008 at 8:16 am

I also remember attending the “Planet of the Apes” marathon in the 70’s. They showed all 5 movies back to back in one day. It started at around 12:oo noon and we got out at around 11:00 pm. What a great memory. The El Rey is for sale now. Here is the current info from the real estate company handling this property;

Property Information
Address: 361-365 Main St, S.
Unit/Suite: Cinema
City, State: Salinas, CA
County: Monterey
X-Street: E.San Luis St
Major Use: Retail
Zone: Salinas – Downtown Salinas

Size & Price
Total SF: 6,324±
Sale Price: $695,000.00
Price/SF: $109.90
CAP Rate: 0.00
Year Built: 0
Parking Ratio: None

This is the original El Rey Theater at the entrance to Salinas' Oldtown. It is a unique one of a kind building in the heart of Salinas. It includes 6,324 s.f. mezzanine (Upper leverl seating) and 2 – 500 s.f. retail locations on either side of the theater. One of those units is currently rented.

For more information, contact:

NAI BT Commercial,
Daniel Vorhies
328-B Main Street
Salinas, CA 93901

Michael93901 on November 18, 2008 at 1:11 pm

I actually worked at the El Rey in the summer of 1977 when it was a porn house. The money was good but the movies were pretty awful. I did however have the chance to witness several prominent Salinas citizens and politicians using the back rows of the theatre for elicit and at the time “closeted” activities. LOL… who knew? The interior was on it’s way down even though you could still see the beauty behind the age. The bathrooms had the original Art Deco tile colors with the 1” black & white mosaic floors. I would like to see the current condition of the theatre just to compare with my past memories.

tomdelay on November 4, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Great story! Too bad the El Rey sits derelect and unused. The church that misguidedly painted out the magnificent murals took the heart and soul out of the El Rey.

Benny on November 4, 2007 at 8:17 am

I was a relief projectionist at the El Rey in 1964. One of the requirements as projectionist was to put a white light on the screen every day before opening so that Sy could get on stage and sometimes do a little dance. Interesting fellow who left me with fond memories of just how colorful some of our movie theatre people were.
Always an interesting day in the projection room of the El Rey. There was a discipline involved that seems to have gone by the wayside in so many areas these days.
Respectfully Submitted,
Ben Kehe
Motion Picture Projection Services, Inc.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
918 906 3715

GaryParks on August 16, 2007 at 1:02 am

Recently-discovered photos show that the tropical murals of the El Rey were NOT the original decor. The streamlined ornamental plaster—yes, but there were originally geometric deco patterns all over the walls and ceiling, much like on the tilework over the lobby drinking fountain!