Del Mar Theatre

1124 Pacific Avenue,
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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From Pacific and Soquel

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened on August 14, 1936 with “China Clipper”, the 1,521-seat Del Mar Theatre has served the college town of Santa Cruz, California for almost 65 years.

After years of struggling through dollar nights and intermittent attendance, the Del Mar Theatre was sold in 1999 and closed.

After an extensive renovation and restoration, the Del Mar Theatre reopened in February of 2002.

Contributed by Tom Mayer, Jacob Hunter

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

coweyhere on November 6, 2010 at 8:58 pm

A photo from January 2010:

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 8, 2011 at 11:09 pm

The name in the architect field is misspelled. It should be Chavalis, but I’m not sure he was actually the architect in any case. As far as I’ve been able to determine, William Chavalis was a painter who worked with Gale Santocono. Chavalis painted murals in the Cascade Theatre in Redding, California, among others.

I’ve also been unable to find any references indicating that the firm Salih Brothers designed any buildings. They were general contractors operating a major construction company, and also operated at least one theater themselves (the Center in Fremont, California,) but I can find no evidence that any of them were architects or even designers. Their own theater, the Center, was designed by A. A. Cantin. It, too had murals by William Chavalis.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on January 10, 2012 at 7:31 am

When I first started working at the Del Mar in 1986, the theatre’s GM at the time, Joe, gave me a ~80 page thesis paper done up by a UCSC student about the history of the Del Mar Theatre, for its 50th anniversary. I may still have it in storage somewhere, but considering some of my stuff may still be in storage in Los Angeles at my dad’s place, it might take a while to locate.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 26, 2012 at 7:15 pm

A questionnaire (PDF file here) prepared for the AIA by the office of architect J. Lloyd Conrich in 1946 lists two theaters among the projects for which he was architect or was associated with others: the “Shasta Theater” (the Cascade Theatre) in Redding and the “Theater del Mar” in Santa Cruz. Both houses were built for Golden State Theatres.

A 2001 post by Warren E. Bechtolt on a message board says: “Research from AIA lists over 190 projects designed by Conrich, 31 of which are theatres.” The post doesn’t name any of these theaters other than the Cascade, but now we know there are at least two survivors among them. Farther down the message board thread the architect’s son, Bob Conrich, posted that “…all of his original tracings are archived at the California Historical Society in San Francisco.” If someone in the Bay Area has access to the collection, maybe they could compile a list of Conrich’s theater designs for us.

Mikeyisirish on October 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm

few July 2012 photos can be seen here and here.

GaryParks on September 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

The sign on the rear of the stage fly tower of the Del Mar has just been beautifully and authentically repainted. While the painting was going on, I happened to be walking by, and I told the painter in charge about a mistake that had been made in the last repainting of it, in 1985. I emailed him a photo I had from 1982, showing how the sign looked then, and he corrected the error. Also, the Diving Lady and the redwood forest vignette flanking the lettering have never looked so good in all the years I’ve seen the sign (since 1972 or so).

jschwen on October 9, 2014 at 2:01 pm

As of today (10/9/14) the Del Mar Grand Auditorium has new luxury seats. Since the larger seats with extra legroom consume more space, the 500 seat auditorium now has 300 seats. The theatre also has beautiful new carpet and fresh paint, with further improvements to come in the near future.

jschwen on October 19, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Here’s a great slide show of the Del Mar remodel:

GaryParks on November 28, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I have not been to the Del Mar since the new improvements, but, looking at photos of the new carpet, I’m quite amazed. Not only does the new carpet pick up the colors of the lobby ceiling, but many of its motifs and patterns as well. And that’s not all: The patterns even evoke some of the decorative borders which existed in the auditorium ceiling mural, which hasn’t existed since 1990. Obviously, a lot of thought was put into the choice of carpet.

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