Embassy Theatre

1125 Market Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Here is an item about renovations from the March 25, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“The announcement is made that the Rialto theater, on the site of the old American on Market street, will be opened early in April, when improvements costing in excess of $70,000 will have been completed.”
An article about San Francisco’s movie theaters in the July 15 issue of the same publication had a slightly longer item about the Rialto:
“The latest and one of the largest houses to enter the downtown field is the Rialto theater on Market street, above Seventh. This theater occupies the site of the old American and is conducted by the Western Theater Company, under the management of Howard J. Sheehan. It has a seating capacity of 1,600 and is showing a Metro program, with an International Film Service serial and news pictorial at ten, twenty and thirty cents.”

hdtv267
hdtv267 on January 2, 2013 at 8:42 am

The space that housed the Embassy is going to be a 12 story apartment building.

So for the time being this should have been demolished ( not closed- the building was demolished after the Loma Prieta Earthquake) then changed to residential.

Viz. http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2012/12/macfarlane-partners-grabs-mid-market.html

Foreverman1
Foreverman1 on November 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I worked at the Embassy Theatre back in 1980-1982 before I moved to Seattle. I was an 18 year old kid living in the streets and the owner took me under his wing and gave me a job. I pretty much took care of everything except ticket sales and projection booth at nights there. I hated leaving but I didn’t like the way San Francisco was changing and I moved to a better city. We played lots of old classics there.Brings back many memories. R.I.P. Embassy Theatre…Mike From Seattle…

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 18, 2010 at 7:17 pm

No doubt something could be done, but, sadly I doubt if anything will. Much as I dearly love San Francisco, there seems to so little interest in or resources made available there for the preservation of their classic theaters. The City essentially signed the death warrant for the St. Francis theaters last week. It was not that long ago that the Coronet bit the dust. The Clay is on life support. Various projects are threatening the New Mission and the Divisadero. It is really a depressing situation there.

chrisjones
chrisjones on September 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

The last two photos are fabulous. Whenever I pass The Strand now, in its delapidated state, it angers me that an icon of the city has been left in this manner… Can nothing be done to resurrect it?

carolgrau
carolgrau on November 22, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Poor place was doomed from the very start, to bad I’ll bet she was a beauty.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 4, 2008 at 3:55 pm

The Embassy and the Strand can be seen in this 1940s photo.

wolfiewolf
wolfiewolf on August 29, 2006 at 2:51 pm

I watched the men tear down this beautiful old theater. It was Evans Brothers Wrecking Company, and they did it with a crane with a clamshell bucket. I also watched as the excavator operator wrapped a cable around the seats in the balcony and pulled the cable and the seats came tumbling down. It was cool to watch. (His name is Mark and he is very cute and delicious to watch him work in the cab of his CAT excavator.)

I also saw the spinning wheel in the pile of debris at the site.

I also remember seeing a beautiful art deco light fixture that hung in the center of the theather. I asked the crane operator Bill if he could save that, and he just looked at me, smiled and said, nah, too tough to get down. One day I went by and that light fixture was gone, probably smashed into the pile of rubble. That was so sad.

George75
George75 on July 19, 2006 at 11:36 am

In the mid-1980s I was a regular at the Embassy, Strand and St. Francis. There were lots of weirdos every day, which meant the entertainment was both on the screen and in the audience. I consider these three cinema closures to represent the end of an era.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 5, 2006 at 8:51 pm

There is a 1979 photo of the Embassy on this site, as well as information about the status of other SF theaters:
http://tinyurl.com/hvod9

GSenda
GSenda on May 12, 2006 at 6:18 am

I spent a lot of time in the 60s and 70s in here and next door at the Strand.

I never won or came close to winning the Ten-O-Win but can still remember the cries of “Main Floor” as the uniformed girls/women ran down the center aisle to pay people for their winning tickets.

The place was always packed and showed 3 movies for an incredibly cheap price.

George Senda
Concord, Ca

guillyca
guillyca on April 19, 2006 at 9:28 pm

The place was run down, the employees could be a bit crabby & homeless people scattered about sleeping. I wouldn’t have traded it, I remember paying $1 before 11am to see a triple feature & the shorts they played were funny such as the nude sking. :)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 21, 2005 at 6:18 pm

Here are two photos from 1929:

View link

View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 20, 2005 at 5:52 pm

A better view of the theaters on Market Street, from the SF Public Library:

View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 20, 2005 at 5:49 pm

This photo shows the Embassy on the right and the Fox on the left. If you have good eyes, you may be able to spot the Paramount, the Orpheum and the United Artists theaters as well:

View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 11, 2005 at 9:27 am

Here is an early photo of the America, from the SF Library. After the Iroquois Theater fire of 1903 in Chicago, which resulted in 602 deaths, many buildings went out of their way to advertise that they were fireproof and “safe”.

View link

robertgippy
robertgippy on June 10, 2005 at 11:28 am

i just had to make another comment. I loved the way, during the Ten Win Game, Dan McClean would say “if you’d like a big bag of popcorn absolutely free, just head to the candy counter right now, where it is all sacked up, nice and hot with lots of creamy butter on top.”

robertcampbell
robertcampbell on April 15, 2005 at 10:16 am

I have very fond memories of the Embassy. In 1975, I won the 4th & 10th double win spin, Royal Blue #25. I won $520.00, walked on the stage, and Dan McClean wrote out the check! Yes, I remember you Mary! Dan would always call out the number and you would verify from the box office that the ticket was in the house, it was wonderful. For a extra 50 cents, you were able to sit in the loge, which had beautiful red upholstered seats, you just sank in the cushions. Beautiful murals of vikings on ships on the walls. Before it closed, the loge entrance, which was a ramp and not stairs, was closed off with a iron gate. It was popular with the homeless and the restrooms were filthy. One time during the movie, everyone was coughing for some wierd reason, and a woman yelled out “WHAT IS THIS A F****** COUGHING CONTEST?” What was interesting was that the ramp had beautiful gold guilded iron on the sides, and you could look down to the floor below.

markolivares
markolivares on January 31, 2005 at 10:17 pm

If anyone remembers the blonde lady who was the main cashier from the fifties through the eighties, thats my mom, Mary Olivares. She later worked at the York, the Strand and finally the Elmwood in Berkeley before retiring last year.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 9, 2005 at 12:40 pm

This is a 1926 photo of the Embassy when it was called the Rivoli:
View link

And here is a 60’s photo of the Embassy Theater:
View link

Kdonovan
Kdonovan on March 28, 2004 at 12:56 am

I had recalled the unique theatre from childhood in later post WWII 40’s, when family would go on greyhound from Marin City (let us take the bus A through the tunnel, not B) to SF, get off at the bus station, go for hotbeef sandwich with mashed potatoes? milkshake to a small restaurant where waitress knew us,then to movie (let it be balcony seats)expriencing my dad having one of the spinning wheel prizes, and, I believe once hearing a recording western star singing star singing a popular song during intermission. It was also around same years we got tickets to a popular western act (Lash LaRue, Sons of Pioneers, Roy Rogers etc)in a theatre that in my memory resembled the huge procenium of Embassy—Wasn’t a plosh neighborhood then, but sad it became drug pushers haven in later part of 80/90s

stevenj
stevenj on March 22, 2004 at 7:52 pm

The Embassy was a unique movie going experience. The Ten-O-Win wheel was rolled out at intermission and a tuxedoed Dan McClean would call out the numbers and colors that the two arrows (each spun in a different direction) landed on. If you had the lucky ticket you would call out and an usher or usherette would come running to you hollering out “Balcony” (if the winner was seated in the balcony) “Pay $5”, or whatever the prize amount was, then peal off the ones to you. Does this sound like the 1950’s? This was still going on well into the 1980’s. By then it was not uncommon to see streetpeople sleeping it off in the front side orchestra where their snoring would not bother most of the audience. There was usually a double bill and the fare tended towards Charles Bronson pix, Peckinpaw, westerns, action films etc and occasionally something like “Nashville”. The feeling there was that it was a family operation – I remember seeing the same employees for over 15 years in the 70’s and 80’s. From the etched glass in the tunnels upstairs leading to the balcony, to the chain that dragged across the stage floor every time the curtains opened and closed (it had come loose from the left curtain’s bottom hem – I guess to weigh it down), to the free popcorn they gave away on Christmas eve, to the peeling paint over the proscenium and that colorful marquee the Embassy was unique on Market St.