18 West Lake Avenue,
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One of only a few theaters (excluding a number of school auditoria) designed by prolific Northern California architect William H. Weeks (not to be confused with prolific theatre architects Weeks & Day), the ‘teens house survived up until the very end with its exterior almost totally in original condition.
Opened in 1914, it was originally named the Appleton Theatre in honor of the thriving apple growing industry of the Watsonville area, the theater soon became part of the T&D (Turner & Dahnken) circuit, which later was acquired by West Coast Theatres, which in turn became part of Fox. As a Fox theatre, the house became the State Theatre.
The interior was remodeled in a Spanish Colonial style following a 1924 fire.
Beginning at some point following WWII, Spanish language films were shown on a weeknight every week, eventually becoming the fulltime policy for this theatre up until its closing in the mid-1960’s, when it became a warehouse for Ford’s Department Store next door. The organ chambers were removed and the main floor leveled, but otherwise the interior remained remarkably intact—balcony, wall niches, proscenium with busts of Conquistadores, firecurtain, even chandeliers—until the building’s demolition along with the department store next to it following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
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