396 S. First Street,
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Firms: Cantin and Cantin
Styles: Streamline Moderne
The Studio Theatre was the last movie theatre in the classic tradition to be built in downtown San Jose, opening in 1950. It maintained its status as a well-kept first run theatre into the 1970’s, when it switched to showing adult movies in 1973-1974. This was followed by a period screening Spanish language films.
When the market for such product dried up in the early-1990’s, the policy became standard Hollywood product double features at bargain prices. All this time, the Studio Theatre retained its original interior murals of ballet dancers, and its gold-swagged curtains and original box office and magenta-and-white neon.
In about 1999, the theater was converted to a nightclub called Dance Plex, containing a Seventies retro club, Polly Esther’s, and a 1980’s retro club, Culture Club. It was last used as Club Wet, which was closed in September 2009.
The interior has been altered, although the lobby has only been repainted. The exterior, which is landmarked, has been completely preserved, including the sign. The auditorium was stripped back to bare brick in August 2011, and will reopen as rock climbing venue.
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