Crest Theatre

1160 Broadway Plaza,
Fresno, CA 93721

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Showing 1 - 25 of 37 comments

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm

A 2012 photo can be seen here.

TLSLOEWS on August 16, 2010 at 6:39 pm

One of the nicest marquees and verticals I have ever seen.

larrygoldsmith on August 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm

The present CREST marquee/neon work was part of the Skouras remodel done in very early 50’s. This was a Fox West Coast Theatre/National General Theatre.

frodoboy on June 3, 2010 at 9:48 am

Correction! My uncle just corrected some of my errors. The Crest marquee was already built by the theater owner (Fox?) and my grandfather’s shop (then a partner in Olsen signs)created all the neon work. If you look at the marquee today, it is pretty ugly without all that beautiful neon so I’d say my grandfather (and his team) really made that marquee pop! My uncle also corrected me in saying that my grandfather’s shop also created the other theater signs in Fresno. They were there before my grandfather arrived in Fresno. His and Olsen sign companies just serviced the signs. What do you expect? I was a little kid at the time and just thought my “gramps” did all these beautiful things! I still got in for free in most of the theaters!

terrywade on May 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm

The Crest Theatre Fresno is the same as the Crest Sacramento CA. Must have had the same Fox West Coast people do the remodel in Sacramento.

Twinkletoes on February 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Oh, I hope there is a planet named Theatre somewhere in this omniverse. We will find all of our favorites, preserved…..

William on February 2, 2010 at 9:59 am

Great Picture!! Now thats how it should be done. Fox West Coast houses had real eye catching marquees.

frodoboy on February 2, 2010 at 9:37 am

Here is a night picture my grandfather took of the Crest Theater neon sign in all its glory back in the theater’s heyday.

My grandfather owned Kaden Neon and Plastic Sign Company back in the 30’s through the late 60’s and designed and built the neon signs and marquees for many of the famous theaters in Fresno including the Warnors, Tower, Wilson and Crest. He also designed and built many other famous neon signs in the Fresno area. My uncle designed the old Manchester center sign. I even got to work in my grandfather’s shop in the early 60’s and he allowed me to design and build a motel drive sign. I think the motel is now a hooker hangout! In the summers that I worked for him, I got to watch my grandfather design the signs from scratch. Then I watched Howard build the metal housings. Then Joe would paint them. Then I watched Woody do the masterful bending and filling of the glass tubes and watched them come to life on his work table. I remember playing with the mercury that he used. It formed a ball in my hand and when I dropped it on the floor, it broke into hundreds of tiny ball bearings as it danced across the floor. It was very expensive and Woody got mad at me when I did it. Of course now we know how toxic Mercury is! Then I got to go and help Al and Lee put the signs up with their 80 foot cranes. Very scary indeed! My grandfather was a master craftsman and as honest as they came back then. He was very respected in Fresno during Fresno’s greatest period in my book…the 40’s through the 60’s.

Cakeight on November 7, 2009 at 11:12 pm

I’ve admired the beautiful exterior of the Crest for years. I happened to be in Fresno today, so I stopped by the theatre to take a few pictures-

While I was there, I had a lovely chat with the current owner, Gloria Leon. She invited me in (as she does anyone she happens to see) and showed me the amazing interior. Although few lights were on, it was still beautiful -

The theatre is currently being rented out for concerts, film screenings and other events. Gloria and her small, but dedicated crew are hoping to restore the building to its former glory. With a very limited budget, they are trying to renovate and paint as much as they can. She said the next big project is the restoration of the marquee, which is currently lacking much of its neon. They are also hoping to find someone to repair the beautiful, but cracking terrazzo entry. Gloria said that they are trying to start a fundraising project, but that they aren’t having much success. I told her that I would try to get the ball rolling here at Cinema Treasures. The Crest Theatre contact information is listed at the top of this page. Let’s see if we can help bring another theatre back!! :)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 20, 2009 at 7:56 pm

This is another 1982 photo.

cthree on November 24, 2008 at 6:52 am

The Crest is in a position to be used in new venues and is the process of minor cleaning and restoration. There will be a small group of rock concerts on a irregular basis to infuse new moneys into this beautiful building. More coming soon !

Larry/c three

MPol on September 15, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Looks like a beautiful theatre!!

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 8, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Here is another photo of the Crest.

SPearce on February 8, 2008 at 1:07 pm

About 10 years ago I drove through Fresno, specifically to check out any William Saroyan sites, but drove up and down the streets near downtown and saw some movie theaters that resonated with me as my home town is farther up the San Joaquin Valley, Stockton. The street I most remember in Fresno was beyond the center of downtown (might have been east, but I am not sure), and was up a hill a bit; it was a “High” street and may have been developed as a suburb up-end neighborhood street in the ‘30s and '40s. It was a block or two of architectural treasures, a fair amount of it art moderne in style with many shops renovated, vital coffee houses and tratorrias, foot traffic to some extent, and I noted some art moderne movie theaters (I thought). This may not be where the Crest is sited; but the style of the Crest was, if I remember, the vernacular of the movie houses on that street. It was so reminiscent of my hometown and what I have seen in California of an architectural style of movie house of a period.

I was looking for some sense of the streets of Saroyan’s youthful hometown. Many of his stories/-screenplays were set in Fresno-like towns of the central valley. I had read most of what was published and available of his literary work. Because of Saroyan’s influence (born 1908) for this town and California, and time period, and American literary history of that time period, I would humbly beseech any renovator to consider working on a way to utilize what William Saroyan evoked in his time, which presaged and paralleled development of a theater like the Crest, to use as a cornerstone in any renovation of a genuine article San Joaquin Valley movie house in Fresno. If there was ever a place that should be screening Saroyan’s “The Human Comedy” with some regularity – and especially in 2008 – it is a Fresno movie house, and that is a film that should be shown now. In fact, I am thinking of producing some readings of his work where I live, just because I believe with a sense of urgency it is so important to do now. Saroyan had a lot to say about “Young Man” going off to war; he was a peacenik before his time, and a conscientious objector in WWII, and that thinking figures in much of his work. This is his centenary.

My thought was that through respect, not exploitation, if a tribute place to William Saroyan was developed, for the people (whether locals know him well now or not), Fresno would do itself a world of good by traversing one path being the continuity from him in further identifying its future in restoring its past pedestals of architecture, literature, and motion pictures.

I know there is sculpture devoted to the “child” in his stories in Fresno, but a movie theater probably offers much more potential, the material is available, and Saroyan was a native son. His generic protagonist was often named “Young Man,” a youth of central California who loved movies, and recognized his impulses and raw feelings as he voiced his thoughts of becoming the future American. But who was that future American? Perhaps all the motion pictures since tell us what happened to that youth (Young America) from the end of WWII.

At one time Saroyan was a foremost American/California writer. He wrote plays and screenplays. He depicted movie theaters in screenplays and explored what they were about; i.e. blogging. I searched for a bookstore that catered to Saroyan readers, or a section in a chain bookstore focusing on him. Nothing. Okay. I just wondered when Fresno was going to recognize properly this resource, as what else is a writer?

Evidently this theater may still have some options? I would want to plant a seed here, and maybe others might nurture it. I believe if such a site was developed for him, it would draw for screenings a much wider audience from farther horizons.

davidreed on September 25, 2007 at 3:32 pm

One of my favorite Blade/tower signs and Marquee. I went up to Fresno to check out their abundence of theaters. Talk about jealous!!I still dream about restoring this one…all that sex appeal That only a true movie palace can have!! I know she’s showing films again but are there any plans for a facelift? Any new info the rest of you junkies can supply I look forward to seeing….

kencmcintyre on July 31, 2007 at 7:21 am

Here is an article from the Fresno Bee dated 1/16/49:

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 14, 2007 at 8:40 am

This is another 2007 photo of the Crest Theater.

kencmcintyre on March 1, 2007 at 6:31 pm

Here is another photo of the marquee:

donthx1378 on February 18, 2007 at 9:23 pm

The Fresno Bee Sunday did a nice piece about the Crest being reopened and showing Ballywood films for right now on the weekends. They talked about that there are many plans to try to draw people downtown to see films at the theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 14, 2007 at 4:50 am

Here are some recent photos of the Crest Theater building. Click each photo to expand it.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 13, 2007 at 2:34 pm

This is a 03/07/1996 article about the Crest Theater:

“Old-Time Movie Theater Sold in Downtown Fresno, Calif.(Originated from The Fresno Bee, Calif.)

Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Author: Nax, Sanford

Mar. 7—The owner of the Guarantee building in downtown Fresno is buying the Crest theater next door, with the fate of the structure unclear at the moment.

Brentwood Investors, which owns the shuttered Guarantee building and has the Crest in escrow, might turn the theater into a parking structure. It also is considering renovating the theater through a joint venture with other investors who have a similar theater operation in Sacramento, said Mark Mimms, a local real estate agent who represents Brentwood Investors and manages the building.

Mimms also revealed that prospective tenants are interested in leasing the basement, first floor and top two floors of the 12-story Guarantee building, which could be reopened.

A large number of vacancies led to the building’s closure in 1994.

The Crest theater deal is one of several possible transactions that investors are pondering as downtown revitalization appears to be picking up speed.

Mimms declined to reveal the sales price, but said Brentwood Investors came into the picture through Brentwood’s relationship with movie director/actor Mel Brooks, an owner of the Crest.

Norman McMenemey, executive manager of the Fresno Revitalization Corp., said his organization prefers to have the Crest remain as a theater. An investor group which operates a theater of the same design and name in Sacramento has toured the Fresno Crest with the thought of renovating it, and possibly could work out a joint venture with Brentwood Investors.

McMenemey said a renovated Crest, which sits at an entry point to downtown from Freeway 99, would fit in with other development propoals swirling around downtown. Among them: the Revitalization Corporation’s attempt to find a developer for six acres at Broadway and Fresno streets, across from the Crest.

The corporation’s request for development proposals for the six-acre site resulted in a visit this week from a Los Angeles-based developer who has built several shopping centers in Southern California. He met with city officials and toured the property. “He was very impressed with downtown and with what we had to offer,” said Arthur Morgan, executive director of the Revitalization Corporation. Morgan doesn’t know if the visit will lead to a development.

Built in 1949 by Fox West Coast Theaters, the Crest is the last of the big-time movie houses in downtown Fresno. This is not the first time that the possibility of putting a parking structure in its place has come up. As far back as 1980, city officials discussed the possibility of razing the building to make way for a parking garage.

Mimms said the owner of the Guarantee building thinks he must provide adequate parking and security to lure tenants, and is exploring all options, including providing valet parking.

Going inside the 1,200-seat Crest is like a trip back in time. Its giltwork is three-dimensional and the ceiling, though faded, was a midnight blue.

“It is like going back to Hollywood in the ‘40s,” said Jim Huebner, a Pearson Realty agent who represented an investor who was interested in renovating it into a pizza pub and classic-movie theater. But the deal fell through because buyer and seller couldn’t agree on a price, Huebner said.

The Crest is only one project that the Revitalization Corp. is pursuing. At a Revitalization Corp. meeting Wednesday, a consultant to the corporation, Al Aguiar, said a Sacramento-area developer is scouting possible sites for a small, but upscale downtown hotel.

Aguiar, a former Macy’s official with strong networks in the retail industry, also has been trying to recruit a brewpub to the area. He also said that some of the same businesses who were among the first investors in San Jose’s redeveloped downtown have been checking out Fresno.

It remains to be seen if the developments occur, but Revitalization Corporation officials and downtown activists are encouraged by the activity".

AdrianEverett on January 19, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Although I live on the East Coast in Virginia and have never seen this theater or have been to the West Coast of California for that matter I think this theater should be fully restorated for either live performances or the “Art House Movie Circuit”. I do agree that theaters like this cannot compete with the digitally enhanced Multiplexes of today but for those seeking an alternative and looking for an escape into something different, this theater and those like it can be great once again.