Fine Arts Theater

429 S. California Avenue,
Palo Alto, CA 94306

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Originally named for a small community, Mayfield, which was later annexed to Palo Alto, this theater was originally a simple Spanish Mission style structure, but was given a plain Moderne facade and marquee in the 1950’s. The last chain to operate it was Renaissance Rialto.

Closed in the late-1980’s, the building is now an oriental rug gallery, though conversion back to a theater would be relatively easy. The marquee still reads Fine Arts in neon, and the original facade still exists in part behind the 1950’s era fascia.

Contributed by Gary Parks

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Dejael
Dejael on November 26, 2002 at 6:57 am

I worked in this theater as a part-time fill-in IATSE Union projectionist from 1980 to 1982.

It certainly didn’t look like the Mayfield when I worked there! It has a beautiful 1950s Art Deco facade which thankfully for art lovers has not been destroyed. It closed in 1987 and became the oriental rug store mentioned above.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 12, 2006 at 11:25 pm

The name of the current business is Jamil Oriental Carpets.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 8, 2008 at 12:39 am

Here is another photo from a current loopnet ad:
http://tinyurl.com/2cc7ke

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 21, 2009 at 5:06 am

The architect of the 1951 moderne remodeling when the Mayfield was converted into the Fine Arts was Gale Santocono. The February 17 issue of Boxoffice ran the announcement, but managed to mangle the architect’s name into Gus Santascona.

LBorg
LBorg on February 14, 2011 at 2:59 am

My Uncle Lawrence Borg Owned this theatre from approximately 1947. Uncle Lawrence Died in 1954, however the theatre remained in the family, under the Borg Family Trust. The Trust was dissolved around 1996/7, and the theatre was sold shortly before the trust was dissolved. I am trying to research when he actually purchased the theatre, or if he was the original owner.

Mikeyisirish
Mikeyisirish on June 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

Logan5
Logan5 on October 6, 2012 at 2:09 am

The Fine Arts theatre appeared briefly in the Walt Disney Productions film “Escape To Witch Mountain” (1975).

GaryParks
GaryParks on February 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Last year, I got a quick tour from the lady who owns the running gear store and cafe which operate in the former theatre. There is very little to see, theatrically, in the former auditorium, which is almost totally given over to retail area. Some textured stucco walls and simple pilasters clearly date to the movie era, as do several cast plaster bowl-shaped light fixtures. Backstage, there has been very little change over the years. The wooden stage surface is still there, and for the most part, the walls have never been repainted. The proscenium is walled-off from the rest of the building. The owner told me that the neon letters on the marquee are still operational.

GaryParks
GaryParks on February 27, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Interesting to see that Gale Santocono did the work on the theatre’s remodel in the 50s. He also did the decorative work in the Seavue Theatre, Pacifica, and the Varsity, in Davis. Early in his career, he did muralwork for the San Francisco Fox.

cjval52
cjval52 on April 16, 2014 at 10:52 pm

My father managed the Park and Guild theaters in Menlo Park, the Altos in Los Altos and the Find Arts in Palo Alto in the 1960’s when the theaters were owned by Roy Cooper, Westside valley Theaters. I do not think Mr. Borg was in the picture after 1960, unless there was a lease rather than a purchase.

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