Fox Redwood Theatre

110 California Street,
Redwood City, CA 94063

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chronicler on March 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm

The Redwood Theater was built in 1933 at a cost of $70,000 for former San Francisco theater exhibitor Phil A. Frease. The architect was WIlliam I. Garren. Frease co-owned the cinema with O.H. Watson. In 1936, Frease died of a heart attack, and Fox West Coast, owner of the Sequoia Theater, took an option on the Redwood.

frank34 on October 26, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Reference Redwood Theater – The Pontica Garage behind the Redwood Theater on El Camino Real was Walter’s Pontiac – more area info – on California Avenue on the same side of the street as the Redwood Theater, but the block closest to Broadway, was the Redwood City Tribune – I waS born in Redwood City in 1934 and lived there until my early 20s

johnoconnor on June 25, 2009 at 8:33 pm

it seems there was another theater in Redwood City -the “Bell Theater” on Main St. I just opened a new thread-but I don’t have much info. Just what info a 70 year old man mentioned when giving some oral history to the Redwood City Library in 1976

larrygoldsmith on June 1, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Redwood Red,

Many thanks for the above photo you mention. I received it thru your personal Email. If you scroll up this site,look for comments from Joe Vogel. He has posted several great pictures of this little theatre. Also check out Fox Theatre, Redwood City on this site, you’ll find more great comments and pictures of that once beautiful theatre!!

johnoconnor on June 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Larry the photo I have of the Redwood Theater was taken in about 1950 from about 500 feet above and is a bird’s eye where as one can read the wording on the car dealership.

larrygoldsmith on June 1, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Current Bank of America is on corner of Jefferson Ave. and Marshall St., with the parking lot on corner of Broadway and Jefferson..

I notice that the old Montgomery St. that changed in the mid 50’s was renamed WINKLEBLECK ST.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 30, 2009 at 11:45 pm

The Fox is at 2215 Broadway (though they give their box office address as 2223), so 2114 is a block down and across the street, near the corner of Jefferson. The old courthouse is at 2200 Broadway, according to the current occupant’s web site.

Here’s Google Street View of the building that once house the first Sequoia Theatre. You’ll have to be patient while that page loads.

johnoconnor on May 30, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Let me start out by saying that my interest in this site is in seeing all this confusion cleared up . I stumbled onto this site by looking for “things ” Redwood City my birthplace (1942). I am retired up in Georgetown and I do miss Redwood City in a lot of ways and even more so the Port where my older brothers took me often starting about 1948.

In reading through all of these posts it is clear to me that the 3 theater’s facts locations are being mixed up. I will tell you what I know as FACT and why I can say that it is a fact and so on.

I will start with the Redwood Theater. FACT: It was located at the Southwest corner of California and Winkeblecker Sts.FACT: It was torn down along with every thing else on the block (auto dealer) in about 1956. FACT: A branch of the Bank of America was built on the site (1956). The Bank moved from its old site a block away at the Southwest corner of California and Broadway. I saw my first movie at the Redwood about 1950 (High Noon)?? We went to the Redwood Theater often because they allowed us to bring our own popcorn and the Fox Theater would not. I has an aerial photo showing the Redwood Theater and the car dealer(Kaiser) behind it out on El Camino. Conjecture: The building Anderson’s Tv is in at the site matched “Historic Aerials” photos from 1956.

FACT: The orginal location of the Sequoia Theater was on Broadway near the corner of Jefferson on the oppisite site of Broadway from the Fox/Sequoia. ERROR: The address of the orginal Sequoia as shown in the “Bits of History” Redwood City photos is wrong,The address would place this theater across Broadway (in the same block) from the Fox. The Courthouse takes this whole block. FACT: The Bank of America did save the orginal Sequoia building and they did tear down the branch office they were in at the corner of Jefferson and Broadway when they were done and it appears they (still) use it for a parking lot. See “Bits of History (RWC) photo#208

The Sequoia Theater (Fox) had some of the plaster ceiling fall onto people in 1950.(See “Bits of History photo#660. injuring 30 people. They reopened a couple of months later as the Fox. I think they replaced a lot of "bad” plastering. My conjecture. The official term was “extensive” remodeling. Rmors were flying around that someone lit off a “cherry bomb” on the roof. Other rumors blamed a passing train.

If anyone wants a copy of the Redwood Theater aerial photo or screen captures of the buildings locations E-mail me at I hope this clears things up.

GaryParks on May 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Joe Vogel’s post of May 7, 2008 puts my mind at ease about the concrete structure on Broadway which looks from the side like it had to have been a theatre originally. It being the original Sequoia from 1917 until 1929 makes sense. This would explain why Larry Goldsmith would remember the present Fox (former “new” Sequoia) as being the only theatre on Broadway until the advent of the recent Century ‘plex. As for the Redwood, it looks like nothing remains. Nevertheless, as I work in Redwood City, I will have to go to the intersection of California and Winkle Bleck and see the site for myself.

johnoconnor on May 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm

A photo was just posted on “flickr"and it is an aerial photo and it shows the Redwood theater and it can be proven that it was located at California and Winklebeck sts. I was born in RWC (1942) and I saw quite a few movies here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Citysearch gives the current address of Anderson’s TV in Redwood City as 901 El Camino Real. Searching on Google Maps with Street View, you get a decent view of the building by using the address 929 El Camino Real (Google Maps will then tell you you’re looking at 928 El Camino, I guess because Google maps is probably confused by Redwood City’s unorthodox practice of putting even numbers on the west sides of streets.) I don’t like using Google Maps Street View feature, because it takes forever for the pages to load. It’s like being back on a dial-up Internet connection. But with lots of patience you can get a look at the building that now squats where the Redwood Theatre once stood.

larrygoldsmith on May 7, 2008 at 9:56 pm

In speaking of Anderson TV/Video, it’s location would be the entire Redwood Theatre site, not the old Balestra Pontiac property. Just to clarify from above entry.

larrygoldsmith on May 7, 2008 at 9:45 pm

You are correct with theatre being located on the southwest corner, I should have mentioned that in my last entry. I also would agree that the address would be 42, but I’m not positive. It sure would make sense that it would be 42. That sure is a Pontiac logo. It looks like it could have been a garage for repairs. I also remember Balestra Pontiac being at 1039 El Camino. (we never referred to El Camino as being north or south in Redwood City, just EL Camino).I’m sure Andersons TV/Video store still takes up that whole block now. I remember the entrance to the store was on the El Camino side. I’ve been in Reno 14 years now so I’m not positive whats there now.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2008 at 9:01 pm

I’ve been picturing the Redwood Theatre being on the northwest corner of the intersection, but if it was on the southwest corner (which it would have to have been if the trees in the background were to the west, across El Camino), then the shops with the addresses of 44 and 46 on them must have been on California Street, too. The theatre would probably have been at 42 California Street, then.

I wonder what was in that building in the background with the fancy cornice? The lower part of that sign on its side looks like an old Pontiac emblem, but it’s too small to tell for sure. There was once a Balestra Pontiac at 1039 South El Camino, which is just below James Avenue. It seems possible that the building behind the Redwood was their location in the 1940s, and they later expanded into the next block, eventually moving their entire operation there. (Not relevant to the theatre, of course, but perhaps interesting to people from Redwood City.)

larrygoldsmith on May 7, 2008 at 8:46 pm

I notice picture dates on two photos of the marquee are not correct. One shows the old marquee with a date of 1946, and the newer marquee which protrudes out from the building as 1940. When the Fox name was added to the marquee they only remodeled the top of the real 1946 marquee to accomodated the taller FOX letters that replaced the “fitted Sequoia” letters. A lot of extra neon was also added to the FOX marquee.( green,white,pink). The same marquee is still in place, however except for the FOX letters there is no other neon, and it was painted a horrible solid gold color. The old verticle Sequoia sign came down when the name changed to FOX.

larrygoldsmith on May 7, 2008 at 8:14 pm

I am sure the Redwood Theatre had a California St. address, even though it was kitty corner to Winklebeck St. Winklebleck St ran into El Camino Real, (in fact, it ends at El Camino). If you look down Winklebleck in the photo, you will notice a lot of tall trees. That would be Sequoia High School, which was on the other side of El Camino. California St ran between James St and Broadway. Putting the Redwood Theatre in the middle of the block. I used to have my piano lessons in the California Building which was on the opposite corner from the theatre, but on the same side of the street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Gary: If the theatre-like building you saw is at 2114 Broadway, that’s the location of the original Sequoia Theatre from 1917 to 1929, according to the Bits of History website. Unfortunately, with all the photos of the New Sequoia/Fox Theatre, the website apparently doesn’t have a single shot of the original Sequoia.

I did find another photo of the Redwood, though, running movies released in 1944 and 1945. It shows the addresses of two shops on Montgomery/Winklebleck Street. Looking at the configuration of the theatre’s doors I’m now wondering if maybe it, too, didn’t have a Montgomery Street address?

larrygoldsmith on May 7, 2008 at 12:19 pm

To Gary Parks, The area in which you describe, which would be going south on Broadway, from the Fox was at on time an old, old bank I think I recall. At the time I was just a child, but it seems that B of A was on that site you describe ( has an open plaza next to it, right??) I remember my aunt doing banking there when she was Asst. Mgr at the Fox. She lived with us all 11 years she was Asst. Mgr. at the Fox. I used to be with her there at the theatre almost everyday. I was born and raised in RC. And I could swear that she did the theatre banking there. Correct me if I’m wrong……. Also, I forgot about this, There was an old live theatre on Main St. at the turn of the century called The Alhambra, it was later bought by a mens fraternity for their private use. BUT, that really was the only other theatre in RWC. Trust me, back then the Fox was “the place to go!”

GaryParks on May 7, 2008 at 9:56 am

With regard to Larry Goldsmith’s assertion above that there has only been one theater on Broadway (the Sequoia/Fox), he may be right and I may have to stand corrected. I won’t belabor the point based merely on the look of a structural concrete sidewall with a blocked-off door or two that appear in about the right place for former exit doors, and a section in back which has always looked to me like a non-fly stage house. It could just be a coincidence. Such things happen. Many years ago a friend swore up and down that he’d found a former theater in San Jose on the Southern fringe of Downtown, based on its concrete structure and the presence of four admittedly very theatrical-looking ornamental masks and other details on the facade. I investigated. It was never a theater, just a nice old industrial building

GaryParks on May 7, 2008 at 9:45 am

Looking at the details of the Redwood Theatre’s exterior in that photo from the San Mateo Library’s collection, I do see details that are hallmarks of S. Charles Lee’s style, or at least of the contractors he used. The angular sunburst of neon atop the marquee, with its almost Navajo neon tube patterning and the horizontal ribs applied to the far ends of the marquee reader boards. The cursive script of the neon on the tower appears in other Lee theaters, and the contrasting horizontal striping on the lower walls does as well. Of course, these are all motifs found on theaters of the day all over and by numerous architects, but their combination in a single theater just “feels” like a Lee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 6, 2008 at 4:41 pm

San Mateo County Library provides this photo of the Redwood Theatre at the time of its opening in 1933. The feature presentation is Eddie Cantor’s “Whoopee” which had been released in 1930. The parked automobiles are definitely later than 1930, though, and I have a suspicion that at least some of the people posing for this picture were cast members of the big stage show advertised in the marquee banner. The library gives the theatre’s years of operation as 1933-1955.

A 1933 opening date for the Redwood makes it very likely that this was indeed the theatre in Redwood City that S. Charles Lee had been hired to design, announced in the January 17th, 1933, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor.

The Google Map feature won’t work with the address currently posted for this location. As near as I can puzzle it out, the theatre was on the northwest corner of California Street and what is now Winklebleck Street, which would put it at the south end of the 0 block. I can’t determine what the actual address of the theatre was, but Google Maps will point to the correct intersection with a search for 99 California Street, Redwood City. But if Redwood City has even numbers on the west sides of streets, then 98 California Street would be the best compromise address.

larrygoldsmith on May 4, 2008 at 9:17 am

Montgomery St. in Redwood City was renamed Winklebleck St.That name change was probably in the late 50’s, when Southern Pacific Railroad converted the area to public parking for the commute trains. Since Southern Pacific no longer runs passenger trains, the commute trains are now referred to as CALTRAIN. It runs between San Jose and San Francisco.

larrygoldsmith on May 3, 2008 at 2:27 pm

In regard to Gary Parks comment that there was another theatre on Broadway in Redwood City… The only theatre ever there was the Fox Theatre located at 2215 Broadway. The only other theatre that was on Broadway is the new Cinemark Century Complex. Other than that there was never any other theatre there. The only other theatre in downtown Redwood City was the little Redwood Theatre on California St.That theatre closed around 1953.

larrygoldsmith on May 3, 2008 at 2:16 pm

.In regard to Simon Overtons comment on speaking with Bank of America and the preservation of the Redwood Theatre, I don’t know how that was possible; that old branch of BofA was closed in the early 80’s. Bank of America did not preserve the Redwood Theatre. After BofA closed it was later replaced with Andersons TV/Video store at the same location (Andersons configured they’re entrance on to El Camino, instead of California St. The entrance of the Redwood Theatre was on California). I do remember Montgomery St. It was on the south side of the theatre, however that steet name was changed when Southern Pacific Railroad made a parking lot for their depot.