Butte Theatre

660 Kentucky Street,
Gridley, CA

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Showing 17 comments

Mikeyisirish on August 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm

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

TLSLOEWS on March 17, 2010 at 11:16 pm


Scott Neff
Scott Neff on March 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

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

tspauld on August 19, 2009 at 11:34 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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 24, 2008 at 6:05 am

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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 24, 2008 at 5:36 am

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 24, 2008 at 1:39 am

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.

kencmcintyre on December 30, 2005 at 1:29 am
  1. The theater is down the road apiece:
    View link
Seth on October 5, 2005 at 12:40 pm


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.

valvann on October 5, 2005 at 2:07 am

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 September 15, 2005 at 10:45 pm

If you’re going to post my photos, you need to credit me. Why not just link to the page you downloaded them from?

psmerd on September 12, 2004 at 4:52 pm

According to a newspaper article from May 3, 1940 posted in the lobby of the Noyo theater in Willits on the occation of its opening, William David was the architect of this theater.

GaryParks on August 3, 2004 at 8:31 pm

Ah yes, they Grey Paint Craze of the 1980s, actually the Grey-and-Blue-Grey paint Craze. The Burbank Theatre in San Jose was a late victim of this as well. Really not an improvement over the Brown-and-Tan Craze of the 70s.

Seth on June 16, 2004 at 3:08 am

The theater seemed to be open, but as some sort of gospel/revival venue. It’s in very bad shape. The marquee is faded and the paint is half gone. The lower level of the marquee has so many holes that it looks like someone used a big machine gun on it. There was also a pile of guano next to the ticket booth. But they were advertising an event for that Sunday. This is another theater that fell victim to the gray paint craze that seemes to have swept the west. The entire building is an ugly light gray, including the marquee, except where the letters are, which is a dull pink. I’m not sure what those people were thinking.

HawaiiGuy on May 10, 2004 at 6:12 pm

Butte Theatre address: 660 Kentucky St., Gridley, Ca.

William on November 13, 2003 at 2:03 am

The Butte Theatre is located at Kentucky & Spruce Streets.

GaryParks on July 25, 2002 at 5:38 am

The 1951 Film Daily listing gives a seating capacity of 775.

The photo shows the marquee and vertical sign to be nearly identical to those still extant on San Rafael’s Rafael (1919), as remodeled by S. Charles Lee in 1939. This is not to say necessarily that this is a Lee theatre—architects and sign designers copied each other constantly, and there is no listing of this one among Lee’s work in the appendix of the book on him (The Show Starts on the Sidewalk, by Maggie Valentine), but the similarity to the Rafael is striking.