Del Mar Theatre

1124 Pacific Avenue,
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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GaryParks
GaryParks on September 20, 2013 at 10:04 am

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).

Mikeyisirish
Mikeyisirish on October 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm

few July 2012 photos can be seen here and here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 26, 2012 at 4:15 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.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on January 10, 2012 at 5:31 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 November 8, 2011 at 9:09 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.

coweyhere
coweyhere on November 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

A photo from January 2010:

View link

terrywade
terrywade on August 22, 2007 at 6:02 pm

Thanks to Jim who runs this great theatre in Surf City Santa Cruz. The best thing ever to happen to downtown Santa Cruz after the 89 earthquake was UA getting out of the theatre business in Santa Cruz. Now they are back up the street with the Regal/UA 9. When they put a wall down the middle of the Delmar to make more money the Delmar lost most of it’s charm. But now the wall is gone with the downstairs theatre almost just as it was with waterfall curtains with purple/red lights on them with deco lights on the side walls. New seats and Dolby Digital. The neon marquee has been fixed up. I heard a rumor that when UA ran the theatre they cut the wires to the marquee rather then fix it. If your in Califoria check out the Delmar. About 90 min down the coast from San Francisco. All the best art films play now on the big screen downstairs, up stairs has two small cinemas in the old balcony. The Delmar is were I saw The High & The Mighty on the big Cinemascope screen with 4 track mag stereo in the 50’s. I was very young but I will always remember the surround stereo sound coming from the sides and back when the plane in the film had trouble. My parents sat in the balcony as the downstairs was sold out. The Delmar is back! Check it out.

tarantex
tarantex on July 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm

I remember visiting all of UA theatres when Jim GalLager Jr. was the District Manager for the Santa Cruz areas , they were nice old theatres but in need of dollars for repair. Does anyone know where Jim Jr. Is??

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 27, 2006 at 3:04 pm

Here is an undated photo showing some interior detail:
http://tinyurl.com/lrh95

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on July 23, 2006 at 3:02 pm

Alan Lopez needed to do a little bit more research before publishing his article.

As a teenager in Santa Cruz in the early to mid 1980s who eventually became an assistant manager at the Del Mar in the mid to late 1980s, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the Del Mar was not a second run theatre during the time I regularly visited or worked there, and was far from being on “hard times” during my watch. I still remember with some fondness and annoyance having to come up with new and exciting ways to trumpet our seemingly never-ending run of “‘Crocodile’ Dundee” in the daily Sentinel newpaper ads, which played first-run at the Del Mar for more than half a year.

UA had their own way of booking their Santa Cruz theatres in the 1980s. The Rio got the expected blockbusters, the Riverfront got the second-level hits, the 41st Avenue Playhouse got the critical and expected award-winners and the Del Mar got the workhorses. (The Aptos Twin was its own conundrum.) It might not have always given the Del Mar the greatest films all of the time, but the theatre wasn’t going for lacking with long first-run plays for films like “Ferris Bueller,” “Star Trek IV” and “Dirty Dancing.”

Now that I live in Los Angeles, I haven’t been to the Del Mar since before the Nick gang took it over. I look forward to checking the old home out in its new splendor.

strawberry
strawberry on April 6, 2006 at 8:58 pm

From the Alan Lopez article “Restored cinemas have audiences cheering” in the November 29th, 2002 edition of the Contra Costa Times:

“…One example is the Del Mar Theater, an art deco movie palace that opened in 1937 with a 25 to 30 cent ticket price. It had more than 1,000 seats, elaborate decorations inside and out and a two-story high cathedral ceiling.

In the 1970s, the United Artists theater chain purchased the theater, split it into four screens and it became a second-run movie house. It took a big hit when the Cinema Nine multiplex opened nearby in the early 1990s.

Jim Schwenterley, the co-owner of the nearby Nickelodeon Theater, said the Del Mar wasn’t managed well and failed to attract audiences. It fell on hard times in the 1980s and ‘90s and was shut down in 1999.

Schwenterley saw the vacant and rotting inside of the theater after it closed. The walls were peeling, there was water on the ground and rats were running in the aisles, he said.

“You’d walk in there and think, ‘Condemn this place,’” he said. “It was a mess.”

The Nickelodeon Theater, two blocks away from the Del Mar, had the opposite problem. It was too popular, according to Schwenterley, there were long lines and packed houses. He wanted to expand and find a new theater where he could screen additional movies.

The Santa Cruz Redevelopment Agency, meanwhile, was receiving proposals for what to do with the Del Mar, including turning it into a performing arts venue.

A new offer

But in late 2000, the Nickelodeon’s owners offered a proposal the redevelopment agency couldn’t refuse. The Nickelodeon, partnering with two local developers, would share in the costs of restoring the theater, operate it and offer the building for public events.

With that in mind, and with public support, the city’s redevelopment agency bought the building in June 2001 for $1.3 million and put in another $700,000 toward the cost of restoring it.

The two developers and Nickelodeon together put in an additional $1.1 million toward the cost of restoring the theater. New seats, screens, wall draperies, carpets, projector equipment, paint and a sound system were installed. More than $25,000 was spent on an elaborate neon marquee.

It now has three theaters, plays art films and attracts several hundred people a night, said Darrell Doan, the redevelopment agency project manager. There are three small businesses inside the building and the theater is used for nonprofit events for as many as 36 nights a year. Doan and Schwenterley said proudly that since it opened, it has hosted six film festivals with free admission.

“It’s become like a major gain for everybody,” said Schwenterley. “We got three extra screens that we really needed because we had so many movies and didn’t have room to play with our little fourplex.”

“In Santa Cruz, the Del Mar Theater is now the pride of the community and, according to Doan, is helping to reinvent the city’s theater district. The renovation project also was awarded the Art Deco Preservation Award by the Art Deco Society of California.

“It’s something that’s definitely doable. It’s not a pipe dream,” Doan said. “The key is to have a strong public commitment.”"

(see Google-cached article here))

moniker9
moniker9 on January 26, 2004 at 7:35 am

Actually, the address is 1124 Pacific Ave. Nearest cross street: Lincoln Ave.

William
William on November 12, 2003 at 4:49 pm

The Del Mar Theatre is located at 211 Pacific Ave..

unknown
unknown on October 15, 2003 at 11:25 am

The Del Mar Theatre has a main auditorium
at ground level with 500 seats.
Upstairs, in what used to be a balcony,
are two 140 seat theatres.
Jim Schwenterley, owner
Nickelodeon Theatres

GaryParks
GaryParks on April 18, 2002 at 8:42 pm

The animated neon on the reopened Del Mar is now a restored must-see for all theatre enthusiasts. It can be argued that the Del Mar now possesses the finest display of theatre neon in any California Coastal city between San Francisco and Los Angeles (with the exception of the Fremont in San Luis Obispo).

tommayersf
tommayersf on February 19, 2002 at 7:51 am

The architect on this project is Arnie Lerner AIA in San Francisco. Email him at for exact date of opening (it’s very soon!)