Mission Theatre

228 S. First Street,
San Jose, CA 95113

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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.

Contributed by Gary Parks

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

GaryParks
GaryParks on June 8, 2004 at 9:45 pm

Update on the “astonishingly stark” multiplex erected on the site of the Fox Mission: Locally owned and operated Camera Cinemas is going to be reopening it very soon. I’m hoping that their budget includes some nice eye-catching details which will relieve the poor building’s “gentrified cellblock-meets-the Great Glass Elevator” appearance.

GaryParks
GaryParks on June 23, 2004 at 8:32 pm

The Camera 12, (former United Artists Pavilion) which occupies part of the footprint of the vanished Fox Mission, is now open.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 19, 2005 at 12:27 am

Does anyone know where this theater was in San Jose? It doesn’t look like the Fox Mission or the Fox Padre. Thanks.

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BhillH20
BhillH20 on October 19, 2005 at 1:40 am

It turns out to be the CALIFORNIA Theatre. See www.shomler.com for photos.

GaryParks
GaryParks on October 22, 2005 at 7:42 pm

This theatre was indeed called the California after it was called the DeLuxe. However, as soon as the “new” California was built in 1927 (the one that is now restored and is featured in the Shomler photos mentioned in the above comment), this theatre became the Mission, and remained so until its 1953 closure and subsequent demolition.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 11, 2011 at 1:30 am

Trade journal Moving Picture World ran this item about Turner & Dahnken’s Theatre De Luxe in its issue of November 9, 1913.

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