228 S. First Street,
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The work of local architects William Binder and Ernest Curtis, the Theatre DeLuxe, opening circa 1912, was equipped for both movies and vaudeville. It had a balcony, and a rectangular proscenium flanked by Ionic pilasters.
When the T&D Circuit became part of West Coast Theatres, the DeLuxe was renamed California, and given one of the West Coast chain’s lightbulb poppy-bordered vertical signs.
When the New California theatre (now the Fox) opened in 1927, the vertical sign was moved over to the new theater, and the "old" California became the Fox Mission.
It underwent a modernization of its facade and signage in the late 30s or 40s. When the Consent Decrees were finalized in the early 50s, Fox, which by this time had a near monopoly on the best theatres in Downtown San Jose, had to divest themselves of one house. The Fox Mission was chosen—it has been rumored—because the structure was mainly built of wood and had termites!
The theater went to United Artists, who were soon ordered to close it — Fox having the last laugh — due to the termite problem. The theater was demolished in the early 50s, except for the reinforced concrete stagehouse, which stood for many years after that as a storage facility until the redevelopment of downtown began.
Ironically, in the early 1990s,an astonishingly stark multiplex, operated by United Artists was built partly on the former Fox Mission site. Fox, now long gone as a theater chain, still has the last laugh, however. The United Artists ‘plex was a failure, and closed after only a couple of years.
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