Crystal Theater

137 Main Street,
Salinas, CA 93901

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2012 at 2:52 am

The architect’s rendering of the Crystal Theatre in Boxoffice of November 14, 1936, mentioned in my earlier comment, can be seen at this link.

LBorg on February 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm

My Uncle, Lawrence Borg, became half owner of the Crystal Theatre Lease and Business in Salinas, California, in 1928.

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. This corporation was dissolved in 1941, after which Lawrence Borg 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 colose of this life.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 20, 2009 at 11:30 pm

The remodeling of the Crystal Theatre to the Art Deco style was done in 1936. Architects for the remodeling were Otto A. Deichmann and Mark T. Jorgensen. A rendering of their design was published in the November 11, 1936, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, though the caption misspelled Jorgensen as Torgensen.

tomdelay on November 6, 2007 at 7:30 pm

And in its silent film/vaudeville days, the Crystal, then called the T & D, was a very attractive opera house/vaudeville theatre. Just last week I came across a photo of a prize fight on-stage looking out at a filled house. The opera boxes were an interesting contrast to the on-stage fight. The T & D name was carried over to the new theatre (now the Fox) in 1921. The former T & D closed for a few years and reopened as the Crystal in the mid ‘20s.

Benny on November 6, 2007 at 6:57 pm

1964 was quite a year for an Iowa farm boy/projectionist who was first introduced in to the world of X rated movies at the Crystal.
The owner, Jerry, (I can’t remember his last name) was still another colorful theatre owner/operator. His trademark was a large cigar. Very nice fellow who always intrigued me as to why he would operate an X rated movie theatre. I believe I now undersand that he was making money. Nice basic projection room with Simplex E-7 projectors and Peerless Magnarc arc lamps. Definitely a “fun” place to show movies especially not knowing, going in the first time that motion picture film could be so sexy. It was tough concentrating on the upper right hand corner for changeover cues. Really tough.
Once Again, Respectfully Submitted,
Ben Kehe
Motion Picture Projection Services, Inc.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
918 906 3715

tomdelay on March 14, 2006 at 8:27 am

Thanks for the link Ken. The new 14 screen multiplex on the site of the old Brown’s Opera House/T & D/Crystal is a very nice looking building—for a modern structure.

Evan after painting, if you know where to look on the wall of the brick building next door to the new Maya Cinemas, you can still see the outline of the Crystal’s balcony. Further back in an airspace between the old and new building is a wall that still has stencil work on it from the Brown’s Opera House/T & D/Crystal.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 14, 2006 at 8:12 am

Another view of the Crystal Theatre (b&w) here:

tomdelay on July 29, 2005 at 5:44 pm

The Crystal Theatre facade was to have been retained in the new building. The facsimile of the Crystal facade is on the north side of the new Maya Cinemas building. The facade is much-scaled back from the original. There is absolutely no doubt in looking at the facade that the original facade is long gone.

I seriously wonder if there was ever any consideration given to retaining the original facade as that structure would have been too far forward and too wide to ever have been in balance with the new facade.

On the positive, the original Crystal sign tower has been loosely copied—right down to the steel steps in the west side of the sign
to service the neon on the original sign. Some of the 1930s art deco bas relief has been replicated in lightweight material and ads to the “feel” of what was there originally. One can still see (until the building gets painted..)the original outline of the Crystal facade (and how far it went out to the sidewalk) and compare that to the new “Crystal”.

For all my complaints about the destruction of the Crystal, the new Maya Cinemas has far more of the movie palace “look” than any other local theatre—excepting the Golden State Theatre in Monterey. (THe Salinas Fox facade could be spectacular again if that 1948 chevron pattern skin were removed to reveal the magnificent Corinthian columns and statues buried under there for all these decades. Unfortunately, the top upper 10' portion of the Fox facade was built of brick and is severely damaged.)

The Maya Cinemas building looks good all around on both the Main Street facade and the rear Monterey Street portion of the building.

I am most intrigued by the fact that the main 400 seat auditorium has a full line of “storage space” behind the screen. There is a new Yamaha player grand in the lobby. How about carrying the movie palace theme to including a theatre organ in the “storage space”. Too bad the organ in the Salinas Fox is leaving town soon heading for the Indiana Theatre in Terra Haute, Indiana.

ChuckParker on July 29, 2005 at 12:22 pm

The new Maya Cinemas 14-screen multiplex opened today (July 29, 2005) on the old Crystal Cinemas site. The official website for the new theaters is:

I took some photos of the construction of the new multiplex, up through the official ribbon cutting ceremony on July 28th. Those photos can be seen here:

GaryParks on April 26, 2005 at 1:23 pm

The new multiplex cinema on the site of the Crystal (and much adjacent property) is now well underway. Part of the new building’s facade incorporates the steel frame of what looks to be some kind of effort at replicating—or at least visually honoring the memory of—the Crystal’s vertical sign, at the general location of the original.

tomdelay on September 23, 2004 at 11:15 pm

When the theatre was still known as Brown’s Opera House, there was a photo taken from the balcony. The orchestra pit was rimmed by what looked like a brass pipe. An upright piano was in the pit’s center. To the immediate left and right of the stage were large box
seats with what looks to be plaster organ pipes above and behind.
The square opening of the proscenium had a large keystone at the dead center of the arch.

When the theatre was demolished, the footlights were still in place.
I was in the theatre circa 1975/76. There was not much left other than the large Phoenix on the ceiling. The box seats and plaster grills (?) were scraped out as was the orchestra pit. It is known that the theatre had some sort of an organ—two windline holes went through the pit wall of about 4" and about 2". This would indicate that theatre might have had a style 45 American Fotoplayer organ as the pit piano and swell boxes used windline sizes of 4" and 2".

In the poor light in 1975/76, it looked like all the walls had been
scraped clean. The side walls toward the balcony had some sort of fabric painted the same color as the auditorium (white as I recall).
When the theatre was demolished a year ago, stenciled walls came into view behind the rotted fabric. These stencils are still visible on the north side wall common with the building next door.
The new 14 plex is under construction and will, in time cover up these stencils. The outline of the former balcony is also visible on this wall.

I understand the facade WAS to have remained. When this facade was demolished, a major project investor pulled out in disgust over the facade destruction.

The proscenium arch WAS NOT lined with exposed light bulbs as I mentioned in an earlier posting. The walls/columns of the arch appeared to be wood. The exposed light bulbs were on a movable frame that outlined the picture sheet.

I took many digtal photos of the Crystal’s destruction.

sdoerr on January 5, 2004 at 5:53 am

Anyone have any links to pictures of the what tye exterior and interior looked like?

William on November 12, 2003 at 6:46 pm

The Crystal Theatre was located at 137 Main Street, it seated 650 people.

unknown on October 30, 2003 at 9:58 pm

As of tonight, 10/30-03, only the stage and fly are still standing. The entire auditorium and facade pictured above are gone.

GaryParks on April 3, 2003 at 2:20 pm

A very recent visit to the Crystal revealed that samples of every single cast concrete decorative motif have been removed from the facade, presumably for replication on the new multiscreen theatre building. A sign with an architectural illustration of the project was also on site which shows a huge arched entrance with neon marquee, and much fine vintage style architectural ornament standing between the original Crystal facade and the facade of the tiny former nickelodeon building at the other end of the project site.

tomdelay on September 26, 2002 at 10:36 pm

Indeed the facade of the Crystal is supposed to be retained for the new cineplex.

The Crystal opened in 1916 as Brown’s Opera House (#2). The place was eventually leased to Turner and Dahnken (T & D) and the name changed to T & D. That name was transferred to the new (1921) T & D Theatre that is presently known as the Fox California Theatre. With the new T & D of 1921, the Crystal name was applied to the present building. The building has been closed since 1972.

The theatre was hopelessly remodeled with the opera boxes, orchestra pit, organ and all removed. There are good photos of this theatre’s auditorium interior on file with the Monterey County Historical Society.

During a visit to the Crystal in 1975, only the light bulb-studded proscenium and a large phoenix was still painted on the ceiling were all that was left of the original interior.

Curiously, no known photos exist of the later, 1921 T & D Theatre.

GaryParks on June 15, 2002 at 1:30 pm

I have just been informed by a friend who is a lifelong Salinas-area resident and very active in the community there that he has seen a rendering of the proposed new multiplex to be built on the site of the Crystal. The Crystal’s facade, vertical sign and marquee are shown in the rendering as being preserved. The rest of the complex will be in a sort of Mediterranean motif. Aside from preservation considerations, the Crystal’s facade and signage are being kept because they are grandfathered-in under the sign ordinance of Downtown Salinas, which no longer allows any new overhanging signage. This way, the new theatre will have both a monumental sign and eye-catching marquee.

GaryParks on May 10, 2002 at 2:31 pm

Opened in 1910 as Brown’s Opera House. Has been closed since about 1972. One screen, with small stagehouse. Was a Beaux-Arts building, later redone 1930s Deco. Deco mural of phoenix bird on ceiling. Last used for Spanish Language movies, and boxing matches.