California Theatre

5741 Dunsmuir Avenue,
Dunsmuir, CA 96025

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California Theatre Dunsmuir

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located at the base of Mt. Shasta, the California Theatre in Dunsmuir was opened in 1926 by T & D Jr Enterprises.

The "California" vertical sign was identical to that made for the California (Fox) Theatre in San Jose. The 800-seat movie theater featured a Wurlitzer pipe organ (presently in Skagway, Alaska) and a vaudeville stage.

Located right next to a Southern Pacific train stop where extra locomotives were added or removed to enable trains to cross the Shasta/Cascade mountains, the theatre was visited by most actors and actresses on promotional tours. The list includes Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Babe Ruth, The Marx Brothers, and many more.

Operated by the Naify family for over 30 years, the theatre was run by various local families until 1991, when Steve Naify, grandson of James Naify (one of the original owners), bought the building and began restoration. Naify added two additional screens upstairs where the local Masonic Lodge had been conducting business for 69 years.

The California Theatre was reopened in June of 2005 and hosted live performances, silent film screenings, and special events.

Unfortunately, less than a year later, the California Theatre was again closed. It has reopened an is screening classic movies.

Contributed by Steve Naify

Recent comments (view all 27 comments)

Holli4949 on October 27, 2008 at 12:42 pm

I lived in Dunsmuir as a child and managed this movie theater when I was 18 years old. I can tell you the ghosts there are VERY real. :)

bryantaylor on July 18, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Greetings, I am now working on the restoration of the California in Dunsmuir. we are trying to reopen it with a new flare including community arts, plays, etc. We are interested in gathering volunteers for this project. We decided to do this without money exchange for the benefit of the town. Any comments or ideas would be greatly appreciated. We are also selling some of the vintage seating in the theater.

keithrankin70 on August 9, 2009 at 6:51 am

I delivered film to that theater for many years. never forget falling on my butt when getting out of the truck in the winter, and then over the hill tom meet the manager from tule lake. Always stoped at Sweet Briar exit and went home with a nice limit of Rainbow's
Good memmories. hope it is a good as it used to be after those knot heads spilled chemicals in it.
The 50s and 60s were good old days

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on October 21, 2010 at 4:08 am

From 1954 a view of Dunsmuir Avenue including the California Theatre in Dunsmuir.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm

A 2011 photo can be seen here.

DonaldKirk on February 14, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Brian: If you are still working on the theatre, I was the media manager in 2005, during the brief live-stage reopening. I need to talk with you! Don Kirk

JohnRice on October 25, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Passing through Dunsmuir in October 2014 I was pleased to see the California has had some renovations (apparently more still in progress) and is showing classic movies (looks like public domain titles, presumably on DVD) on weekends with more extensive multi-media use to come. They also have a website and a Facebook page. I posted some new pictures on the Photos page here, great to see those old movie titles up on the marquee! Good luck to those folks who are bringing back to life this lovely old theatre in this lovely small town!

kevinfglover on February 17, 2016 at 10:42 pm

I was manager of the California while Steve Naify was running it around ‘94 through '96. I helped convert the old Masonic temple into the two extra screens. For a while I was actually living there in an office above the lobby. BTW for you ghost hunters out there, there is a ghost cat I have seen several times near the projection booth.

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