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 14 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 7, 2008 at 6:41 pm

If this building is on Loopnet, does that mean its for sale? And why didn’t you just link to the Loopnet page instead of removing their photo?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 20, 2009 at 9:06 pm

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 on February 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm

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 on June 27, 2012 at 10:12 am

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

Logan5 on October 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm

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

GaryParks on February 27, 2014 at 1:29 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 on February 27, 2014 at 1:31 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 on April 16, 2014 at 2:52 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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