Butte Theatre

660 Kentucky Street,
Gridley, CA

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Butte Theatre exterior

Contributed by Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

valvann on October 4, 2005 at 6:07 pm

Seth, could you post your photo link here, please? I’d very much like to see them.

Re: who designed it. According to architectural historian David Wilkinson in “crafting a Valley Jewel” (about Woodland CA architecture, has a bio of William Bernard David), Wm. David was never a licensed architect, and he worked under/for S. Charles Lee for some years. Because of his lack of license, Wilkinson says that while David designed and oversaw the construction of many of these theaters, he often had a licensed architect or engineer sign off on the plans.
David is known to have designed the State in Woodland, but S.C. Lee is signed off on the plans. This may well be the case with Gridley and others of these smaller town theaters. See my comment on the San Mateo Palm theater.

Seth on October 5, 2005 at 4:40 am


There’s the link to the first of 4 pictures. You can get to the rest quite easily from there. Sorry for the poor light, it was a little late in the day.

kencmcintyre on December 29, 2005 at 5:29 pm
  1. The theater is down the road apiece:
    View link
Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2008 at 5:39 pm

Boxoffice Magazine of September 3, 1973, said that the Butte Theatre was scheduled to be shuttered that day. The last operator was United Artists Theatres.

Google Maps street view shows that the Butte has lost its marquee and distinctive art moderne tower. The terrazzo of the former ticket vestibule appears to be partly intact, but the vestibule’s roof is gone and the entrance doors are sealed up. The auditorium is still standing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2008 at 9:36 pm

From Boxoffice Magazine, February 12, 1938: “…George Mann and Morgan Walsh…have acquired a corner lot in Gridley, Cal, and will proceed immediately to construct a Class A theatre on the site.” Projected cost was $100,000, and seating was to be “about 800.”

Mann and Walsh were the operators of the Redwood Theatres Circuit, which was very active in the small towns of the Sacramento Valley during this era, so it seems quite possible that the unnamed theater to which the article refers was the Butte. It is on a corner lot.

But then there’s this item from the June 4, 1938 issue of Boxoffice: “Plans for rebuilding the Gridley Theatre, Gridley, are being drawn up, says owner Fred Naify. The house was destroyed by fire on May 15, with an estimated loss of $55,000.”

Whether it was the Redwood Theatres project, or Naify’s rebuilt theatre, renamed, the Butte probably dates from late 1938 or early 1939.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2008 at 10:05 pm

OK, the August 5, 1944, issue of Boxoffice gives another clue to the Butte’s origin. It noted that the Butte and three other Sacramento Valley theaters had been leased by T&D Jr. Enterprises from the heirs of the late Morgan Walsh. That indicates that it was the Mann/Walsh project of 1938 which became the Butte Theatre. Interestingly enough, T&D Jr. Enterprises had been taken over by Fred Naify, former owner of the Gridley Theatre, in 1947.

tspauld on August 19, 2009 at 3:34 pm

The $75,000 Butte Theatre opened to the public on June 18th, 1938, after an invitation-only preview on the night of the 17th. The owners were George M. Mann and Morgan Walsh. Mad About Music starring Deanna Durbin was the first film shown. Source: The Gridley Herald, June 17, 1938.

When I was trying to find out more about this theater in 2006, it was being used for church services, but the foyer and marquee had been condemned and torn down.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on March 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

According to the google street view the marquee and tower have in fact been removed. The terazzo floor is still visible.

TLSLOEWS on March 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm


Mikeyisirish on August 1, 2012 at 7:50 am

Maybe this one will come back? Check it out here and here.

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