Sanger Theater

638 N Street,
Sanger, CA 93657

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The Sanger Theater was opened in 1936. Robert L. Lippert Theatres Inc. purchased this theater from the Panero Theater chain in March 1949 and it continued in use thru 1957 and beyond.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 10, 2009 at 4:54 pm

The August 4, 1945, issue of Boxoffice said that August Panero had bought two theaters at Sanger. They were the Sanger, a first-run house seating 677, and the Star, seating 450.

Motion Picture Herald of August 22, 1936, had said that William Gustine had purchased the Kummeth Building in Sanger and would transform it into a theater. Boxoffice Magazine announced the opening of Gustine’s Star Theatre at Sanger on September 1, 1939, in its issue of the following day.

I don’t know if Gustine’s 1936 project was the Star, and it took him three years to get it open, or if the 1936 project was the Sanger Theatre. An item about the sale in the August 11, 1945, issue of Boxoffice indicates that Gustine owned both houses. The Star was closed at the time of the sale, but Panero intended to refurbish and reopen it.

This item also said that Gustine had been in the theater business for 17 years, but didn’t specify where. It’s possible that the Sanger was an older theater he had operated since the 1920s. I can’t find it mentioned by name in Boxoffice prior to 1940, though, and no mentions of the town of Sanger earlier than 1939.

Sanger had a theater at least as early as 1916, when the November 9 issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor said that M. Rogallo intended to demolish the Bell Theatre at Sanger and build a new theater on the same site. That could have been the house that became the Sanger Theatre. I’ve been unable to find any photos of any of the theaters in Sanger.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 5, 2018 at 5:37 pm

An August 27, 1936 item in The Fresno Bee said “… the remodeled Sanger Theater Seventh and O Streets will soon be ready for occupancy” so it must have been referring to the 1936 project for William Gustine. Gustine is mentioned as operator of the Sanger Theatre in quite a few issues of the Bee, including this one.

But I don’t know what to make of the location Seventh and O Streets. The Bee writer might just have been off by a block. But whether we’ve got the right location or the newspaper did, I’d say it’s safe to assume the Sanger Theatre opened in 1936.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 5, 2018 at 6:28 pm

Also, there was definitely an earlier house also called the Sanger Theatre. It was mentioned in an ad for the Typhoon Fan Company in the January 1, 1921, issue of Moving Picture World.

The 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory listed four theaters in Sanger: The Bell Theatre, 1172 Seventh Street; the Opera House; the Orpheum, Seventh Street; and the Theatorium, corner of Seventh and N Street.

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