Main Street Theatre

307 E. Main Street,
Visalia, CA 93279

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Main Street Theatre

It’s hard to believe that this theatre, with its rather ordinary exterior, was designed by famous theatre architect S. Charles Lee. Opened in 1949 as the Visalia Theatre, showing John Wayne in "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon," its quonset hut auditorium originally seated more than 600.

Today it pales when compared to the well-known Visalia Fox Theatre, four blocks away, whose architects were Balch & Stanbery.

Since 1992 the Visalia Theatre has been renamed Main Street Theatre and has been home to the family-oriented Enchanted Playhouse whose mission is to "Enchant, surprise, excite and amuse audiences, young and old." The theatre is also available for rental to the community.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

GaryParks
GaryParks on June 10, 2002 at 9:10 pm

Just for the record, the Visalia Fox, mentioned above, was designed by Balch and Stanberry, though it indeed has design elements in common with theatres designed by Lee, such as the Bakersfield Fox.

valvann
valvann on October 4, 2005 at 6:26 pm

Gary, what is your source for “Balch & Stanberry” as designers? (newspaper, building plans?)

Also, does any one have a photo of this theater from the front?

thanx

tomdelay
tomdelay on October 4, 2005 at 7:44 pm

I am not about to speak for Gary (who is on a trip to Egypt right now), but the Fox Theatre in Hanford AND the Fox Theatre in Visalia were both designed by Balch and Stanberry. Motion Picture World of 1930 had floor plans of both the Hanford and Visalia Fox Theatres and both were clearly designed by B & S. The Visalia Fox folks have a fine book out (presumably available from the Friends of the Fox website)and this book also clearly states the B & S firm as architects.

tomdelay
tomdelay on October 4, 2005 at 8:21 pm

For the record, the Visalia Fox Theatre website is:
http://www.foxvisalia.org/

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 24, 2005 at 4:30 pm

Here are some pictures from the UCLA Digital Collection:

View link

View link

View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 4, 2007 at 6:50 pm

In 1963, the operator was West Side-Valley Theaters, out of San Francisco. General manager was Roy Copper. WS-V also ran the Grand in Visalia, which I am going to add as I don’t see it listed on CT.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 22, 2008 at 12:05 pm

It looks like the original UCLA/Lee site has been taken down. Here are two photos from another UC site:
http://tinyurl.com/3yn9zt
http://tinyurl.com/2knuy7

liljim
liljim on April 28, 2013 at 12:47 am

Other then kencmcintyre comment on 4 Oct 2007 no mention has been made of the Grand Theatre, ¿Was there a theatre by that name? Perhaps it was a rename of another theatre, just curious.

kellyventura
kellyventura on July 12, 2018 at 3:21 pm

My name is Kelly Ventura, and I serve on the Board of Directors for The Enchanted Playhouse Theatre Company a local children’s theatre in Visalia, CA. For the past 25 years, we have called The Main Street Theatre in Visalia, CA (a theatre designed by S. Charles Lee in 1949) our home.

The City of Visalia currently owns the property, and is seriously considering selling. Our company has attempted to purchase the building. However, the City of Visalia has accepted a bid from a real estate developer who intends on turning this historic treasure into restaurants. This will involve a drastic structural change to the building. Our children’s theatre has held true to Mr. Lee’s original intent for the building: local entertainment. This new proposal will not hold true to Mr. Lee’s original design or intent.

Our children’s theatre serves 14,000 local students per year. Since we started in the early 1990s we have served over 300,000 students and performed over 2,000 shows. There are no local theatres that can support our audiences. If we are forced to leave, our outreach efforts will be reduced by 70%. Our theatre is rallying our local community to protest the sale of the building on July 16th at the next Visalia City Council meeting.

As an organization passionate about maintaining the integrity of movie theatres, we ask for your support in keeping S. Charles Lee’s vision alive. Local TV, radio, and newspaper media have run this story and are sympathetic to our local children’s theatre. I have included a link to the most recent article. Please consider helping us in any way you can.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/entertainment/arts/2018/05/14/enchanted-playhouse-says-visalias-main-street-theater-sold-et-theater-sold/606029002/

Our website is www.enchantedplayhouse.org. You can also look us up on Facebook.

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