Metro Theatre

2055 Union Street,
San Francisco, CA 94123

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Metro Theatre

Opened as the Metropolitan Theater on April 23, 1924 with “The Fighting Coward”, a second-run attraction. It was built by Samuel H. Levin, and, from the beginning, was a key link in his San Francisco Theatres Inc. chain, which originally consisted of the Alexandria, Coliseum, Metro, Harding, Balboa and Vogue (in 1949, the Coronet was added to the group.)

In 1941, the Metropolitan Theater was extensively remodelled, both inside and out, and it re-opened on June 7, 1941 with Margaret Sullivan in “Back Street” & Gene Tierney in “Tobacco Road”, its name now shortened to Metro Theatre.

In the mid-1950’s the Metro Theatre was home to the just emerging San Francisco Film Festival, and eventually upgraded to a first run venue, with bookings usually carefully chosen so as to maintain its image as one of quality and prestige, and far better maintained than most of its siblings elsewhere in San Francisco.

The Metro Theatre continued to operate as a single screen theatre until its closure in October 2006. In June 2009, the developer extended a commitment to preserve some of the historic features inside, including a series of murals by interior designer Anthony Heinsbergen, Ioinic columns, grilles and urns on the stage. It was converterd into a gymnasium.

Contributed by Tillmany, Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 54 comments)

kpdennis on April 25, 2009 at 1:50 pm

The Metro in slightly better days – from spring 1996:
View link

TLSLOEWS on June 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Very nice maybe someone can open it back up.

SkotFromTheRio on February 20, 2012 at 10:30 am

I managed the UA Metro around 1990. Of all the theatres I ran for UA in San Francisco, it was my favorite. Such a beautiful building, mostly unchanged from it’s opening state. Huge Lalique-style murals on the walls. a Todd-AO projector with 70mm capability and very decent sound. Among the movies that screened there during my tenure: • MEMPHIS BELLE in 70mm • BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES in 70mm • NOTHING BUT TROUBLE with Chevy Chase (total bomb. averaged 8 admissions per day. got a lot of gum scraped off the seats that fortnight) • PARIS IS BURNING (a documentary about transvestite “balls” in New York. The SF Chronicle reviewer said up front that it had no business playing at the Metro, and should have opened at the Castro. With seven shows a day and sellouts every night, I totally cleaned up.) • PRESUMED INNOCENT

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 7, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Here is a quote from the Landmark Designation Report for the Metro Theatre, regarding the involvement of architect Otto A. Deichmann in the 1941 remodeling of the house, and his professional relationship with Timothy Pflueger:

“While architect Timothy L. Pflueger (1892-1946) has long been associated with the 1941 renovation of the Metro Theatre, his involvement is less clear than that of architect Otto A. Deichmann (1890-1964). A city permit, dated 1941, for interior work and plumbing lists the name of the architect as Otto Deichmann, 321 Bush Street. Historical consultants involved with the 1998 renovation of the theatre believe that Deichmann worked with Timothy Pflueger during the renovation. Research has not confirmed that Deichmann worked in the offices of Pflueger’s firm, Miller and Pflueger, but the two men were associates and overlapped on important projects, most notably the Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939-1940, where Deichmann designed the Shasta-Cascade Building. The well-known mural by Diego Rivera, Pan American Unity, now located at the main campus of City College of San Francisco, was commissioned for the Golden Gate International Exposition. The mural depicts both Pflueger and Deichmann. Pflueger, friend and patron of Rivera, collaborated with him on the mural.”
Click this link to download a PDF file of the Landmark Designation Report. It has a fairly extensive history of the theater.

CSWalczak on April 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm

An article about the proposed plans for the conversion of the Metro Theater into a gym. View link

GaryParks on January 28, 2014 at 9:24 pm

The facade of the Metro is essentially finished. It, and the marquee and vertical are repainted in two shades of taupe, and all the neon is back in place. Construction still continues inside. The 1920s ticket lobby ceiling in the entrance has either been preserved or carefully replicated. Through the new entry doors, one can see that the central one-third of the stenciled lobby ceiling has been faithfully replicated.

MSC77 on December 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm

“The Graduate” opened here fifty years ago today. The film went on to play (a venue record?) 46 weeks. And to commemorate the classic film’s golden anniversary, here’s a new retrospective article which includes some exhibition history (and other) details.

rivest266 on August 1, 2018 at 3:29 pm

This reopened as Metro on June 7th, 1941. Ad in the photo section.

rivest266 on August 1, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Also uploaded the April 23rd, 1924 as Metropolitan.

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