228 S. 1st Street,
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The work of local architects William Binder and Ernest Curtis for the T&D Theatres circuit, the 1,350-seat Theatre De Luxe opened on August 14, 1913 and 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 Theatre De Luxe was renamed California Theatre, and given one of the West Coast chain’s lightbulb poppy-bordered vertical signs.
When the New California Theatre (now the Fox Theatre) opened in 1927, the vertical sign was moved over to the new theatre, and the "old" California Theatre became the Fox Mission Theatre.
It underwent a modernization of its facade and signage in the late-1930’s or 1940’s. When the Consent Decrees were finalized in the early-1950’s, 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 Theatre was chosen—it has been rumored—because the structure was mainly built of wood and had termites!
The theatre went to United Artists, who were soon ordered to close it — Fox having the last laugh — due to the termite problem. The theatre was demolished in the early-1950’s, 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-1990’s,an astonishingly stark multiplex, operated by United Artists was built partly on the former Fox Mission Theatre site. Fox, now long gone as a theatre 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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