Jose Theatre

62 S. Second Street,
San Jose, CA 95113

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Jose, 1982

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1904, the Jose Theatre is the oldest theater in San Jose, California.

It is a designated city of San Jose Historic Landmark and is eligible for the National and California Registers.

In June of 2001, the city council agreed to a ten-year lease with the Improv Comedy Club, which opened in the Spring of 2002.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

GaryParks on April 26, 2006 at 10:31 am

In the above entry by ken mc, the first photo with the theatre sign reading VITAPHONE shows the Victory Theatre, which later became the Crest, and burned in the 60s. Nearly all the buildings on the right side of the street in the photo are gone. The Knights of Columbus building on the left side still survives.

GaryParks on April 26, 2006 at 10:35 am

The second photo submitted by ken mc shows South Second Street (with the Jose) in the mid-1980s, when the street was ripped up for the Downtown Transit Mall. While the end result of the mall’s construction was ultimately a positive one for Downtown, the construction process was very hard on the businesses at the time. You can see that the Jose was weathering the storm by staying open with the triple feature policy it had presented for decades. At this point it would have still been operating under General Theatrical Co.

gunrob on February 13, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Did you know that the Jose Theatre had a 4-man orchestra? Here is a picture of the group ca. 1910.


kencmcintyre on November 29, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Little known historical fact, courtesy of Wikipedia:

During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key, accompanied by American Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner and Mexican Attache Jose Romero-Gonzalez, dined aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant, as the guests of three British officers. Skinner, Key, and Romero-Gonzalez were allowed to return to their own sloop, but were not allowed to return to Baltimore because they had become familiar with the strength and position of the British units and of the British intention to attack Baltimore. As a result of this, Key was unable to do anything but watch the bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore. Peering through the heavy smoke, he commented to the Attache, “Jose, can you see?” Shortly thereafter, he was inspired to compose our national anthem.

kencmcintyre on November 29, 2007 at 5:27 pm

There is no Jose Romero-Gonzalez. I was just wasting valuable web space. I’m going back to work now.

jon62 on March 23, 2012 at 8:12 am

The good old Jose… we would go there Saturday afternoons and pay 10 cents to see three movies. Lots of hispanics would hang out there, sometimes there were fights and a place where people “made out” and just hung out..

Mikeyisirish on December 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

pengeman on June 14, 2013 at 7:09 am

Worked at this theater when going to San Jose State, now a state university. Wife and I met there and have been married for 40 years. “Mr. Miller” managed the theater and told us we would never find another job like that. He was right.

paulzak on April 7, 2015 at 6:38 am

I did a little electrical work in this theater in the 80s. The top floor contained a kitchen and bedrooms/dorm. Apparently this was an old vaudeville theater and the performers stayed in the apartments when playing the theater. For better or worse, the owners in the mis80s allowed employees to play paintball in the space giving the place a post apocalyptic look. Zombie central.

Elisabet on May 17, 2016 at 10:04 am

My favorite theatre The Jose! Saw the worst and best movies of the 70’s there. As a teenager was both traumatized and fascinated! All the Bruce Lee Kung Fu films – Chinese Connection, Fists of Fury, Enter the Dragon, Blaxploitation films – Super Fly, Shaft, Cleopatra Jones, Blackula, B Movie Horror films – Race with the Devil, The Devil’s Rain, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Legend of Hell House, Night of the Living Dead, The Incredible Two Headed Transplant. Those Satan Biker movies…yikes! We’d go in when it was light and come out and it was dark! $1 for a triple feature, not to mention the other entertainment – Winos, Prostitutes, kids running up and down the aisles. Awful threadbare seats, gross bathrooms with those pink perfumatic perfume despensers. The best memories! :)

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