California Theatre

5741 Dunsmuir Avenue,
Dunsmuir, CA 96025

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

Jeffreymoffitt on December 22, 2016 at 8:06 am

Thats too bad, hopefully someone will make a go of it. At one time i thought a dinner theatre, old movies and great food. Could be fun and turn enough prorit to work.

Trolleyguy on December 22, 2016 at 7:40 am

This theatre is closed. Phone disconnected, no listings on the web, Facebook page not updated for over a year.

Jeffreymoffitt on December 22, 2016 at 7:30 am

I know every inch of that building. I’ve cralled between the floors, in the attic and under it in the swamp cooler tube thats fed bu an underground stream. Very inovative. Over the lobby ceiling is the original, is beautiful. When i painted the front i took scrapings of paint from the details, many details were not ever highlighted so we got to bring some more life to her beautiful face. Personalli i never liked the choice of blue as the main base color but i was allowed to do the gold i wanted. We were working on a way to cost effectivly re light the verticle sign. That woulh have been so beautiful. Really loved bringing entertainment to dunsmuir.

These old thestres were the heart of many towns. You got your info with news reels,saw great movies, if there was a stage school preformances, graduation,etc. City awards. So many first dates, first kisses, first loves, romances, A place where you can let your imagination go wild,or get away from your troubles for a couple hours, laugh or cry with your neighbors. I sometimes would sit by myself running a movie i just put together to make sure it was ok and set the sound up, and be so thankful that i was getting a chance to bring that majic and joy to people lives.

Old theatres are special.

Jeffreymoffitt on December 22, 2016 at 7:07 am

I built all three projection rooms. I found a neautifil simplex sound head that sounded great. There was an otiginal voive of the theatre speaker on the stage that still sounded very good. Was fun to play with the old equiptment and mix it with a platter system. The original arc projectors were still there and i set up with naify and turned on! Hope they kept one of them. Found a Italian machine, a cinematica i believe at another theatre.

Laced up a 60 foot screen and found a anamorphic lens to use. An excellent picture.

I built an apartment for myself on the mezzanine, a great place to live.

When the masons moved out the upper two theatres were built.

I repeatedly tried to get steve naify to allow me to bring in spe ial showings of classics, 30s, 40s b&w, series like the thin man, topper etc,saturday serials, newsreels and oneof my favorites The Women. And then have months dedicated to an actor. Would have been so much fun. And ½ price if in period garb.

kevinfglover on February 17, 2016 at 2:42 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.

JohnRice on October 25, 2014 at 3:02 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!

DonaldKirk on February 14, 2014 at 2:41 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

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

A 2011 photo can be seen here.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on October 20, 2010 at 8:08 pm

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

keithrankin70 on August 8, 2009 at 10:51 pm

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

bryantaylor on July 18, 2009 at 12:42 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.

Holli4949 on October 27, 2008 at 5:42 am

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. :)

jrhine on December 30, 2007 at 7:29 am

According to, the California Theater has its original organ back.

WurliTzer Opus 1232

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on July 26, 2007 at 1:15 pm

Having visited Dunsmuir on several occasions, my wife and I were very much impressed with this charming city. We were kindly afforded a memorable tour of the theater, of which, has remained with us.

Presently living in the greater Los Angeles area, I have run aground in trying to find a theater in which to offer the benefits of my past cinema/theater experiences, both professionally and volunteer in England, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Should owners of the California Theatre contemplate reopening soon, then we are prepared to relocate if anyone wishes to contact me at

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on April 26, 2007 at 7:41 am

Are there any new developments with the California Theatre regarding its recent restoration, closure and sale and is it still a tri-plex?
I’m very curious!

MilesRichmond on June 16, 2006 at 8:01 pm

How sad and disappointing it is to think how hard the young people worked to put Dunsmuir on the map and then some of the people in Dunsmuir are so small minded not to see a good thing right in front of them. There is no doubt in my mind that it can be a success.
There was a lot of work done and I hope it can be saved. Miles Richmond

DonLKirk on June 16, 2006 at 6:08 pm

To Clarify. Mr. Naify does not now own the CA Theatre. He was great to us; helping us reopen it and he donated the two original backdrops, from when the theater first opened in the 1920’s.

DonLKirk on June 16, 2006 at 5:52 pm

The California is again closed. Apparantly a number of local citizens do not like the building’s owner; and they told us that unless we bought the place from him, they would not attend. While I never heard or saw the ghosts, several are rumored to live there. I’m President of the American Theatre Development Corporation; and we will soon see if we can purchase the CA. BTW… It’s 3 stories; and my office was 3 flights up in the old Mason’s office; with no elevator to help me get there. We’d like help getting ownership of it. funds/volunteers, etc. It’s partly refurbished; and we would like to restore it (and add an elevator) Don L. Kirk

rroberts on January 1, 2006 at 7:23 am

Any idea of what is happening in this great theatre?

kencmcintyre on November 19, 2005 at 4:56 pm

Here is another photo, from the same source:

View link

kencmcintyre on November 18, 2005 at 3:07 pm

From the UC Davis collection:

View link

GaryParks on July 2, 2005 at 12:24 pm

Clarification: The CALIFORNIA vertical sign was one of a number of identical or near-identical signs made for many theatres under the T&D banner which were named “California.” The example in Dunsmuir is identical in design to that of the 1927 California Theatre in San Jose, a sign which was originally applied to the 1912 T&D Theatre DeLuxe when it was renamed California, and then later moved over to the new 1927 namesake. The DeLuxe/California of 1912 date was then renamed the Mission, and was torn down in 1953.
The Dunsmuir California vertical was indeed studied in detail in recent years, so that a replica could be made by Wagner Electric Sign Co. for the restored California in San Jose.