Metro Theater

2055 Union Street,
San Francisco, CA 94123

Unfavorite 14 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 49 comments

GaryParks
GaryParks on January 28, 2014 at 7:24 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.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on April 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm

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

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 7, 2012 at 7:25 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.

SkotFromTheRio
SkotFromTheRio on February 20, 2012 at 8:30 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

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 13, 2010 at 9:28 am

Very nice maybe someone can open it back up.

kpdennis
kpdennis on April 25, 2009 at 10:50 am

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

lacadaz
lacadaz on February 4, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Here are a few shots from the exterior taken in January 2008

Metro Theater

tjmayerinsf
tjmayerinsf on February 2, 2008 at 10:47 am

The SF Landmarks Board will consider landmark status for the Metro Theater next Wed., Feb. 6 at 12:30 pm in Room 400, City Hall. See www.sfntf.org for more info or email Alfonso Felder at … the Metro item is #14 of a 14-item agenda so it will be later in the afternoon . .

enlgdm25
enlgdm25 on October 8, 2007 at 1:13 pm

Does anyone know what is currently happening with the theater? Are they planning on using it as a theater or for alternative uses? It is a shame that it is not in use, because it is such a beautiful theater. Who is the current owner of the property, and what is their contact information?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 4, 2007 at 2:07 pm

It seems like an upscale neighborhood. I can’t imagine it will be vacant for much longer.

Eric
Eric on September 3, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Wow, it’s real sad to see it all boarded up and dormant like that. I bet the residents and businesses on/near Union Street now wish they had tried to save it and keep it open.

RAMcBride
RAMcBride on August 15, 2007 at 12:13 pm

I am looking tp photograph some interior shots of the Metro. If anyone has access to the Metro and knows the importance for archival documentation please email me or post a comment I would love to help.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on August 4, 2007 at 7:55 am

An associate friend of mine, who is a professional promoter and owns two theaters, is looking for a classic/historical theater to buy in which to present concerts in San Francisco.

My memory tells me that the Metro was once a vaudeville house so possibly there are dressing rooms etc, still exsisting and what dimensions are the stage. Is there a tower to fly the screen?

Also, will someone please update me with a seating count, in-house operational equipment and a contact name/phone/e-mail for a “$” amount?

Here’s hoping that United Artists/Regal didn’t trash the place when vacating -as is so typical of this cut throat chain of candy merchants.

I say to “the City that knows how…” let’s get the Metro’s lights back on… it’s time to rock ‘n roll!

RAMcBride
RAMcBride on June 13, 2007 at 4:24 am

I am a photographer working on a book about San Francisco movie theatres. I have already photographed the Castro, Bridge, Balboa, New Mission, Tower, Roxie, among others. I want to photograph the Metro Theater but I have encountered some obstacles- anyone have access to the inside of the theater? Please email me or post a response to this email.
To see my photographs go to www.leftinthedark.info

Thanks,
R.A. McBride

Ian
Ian on March 18, 2007 at 6:39 am

Exterior photo here:–

View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 29, 2006 at 5:38 am

I like the little plea at the bottom of the photo. My gym used to be the Mann 9 at the Del Amo mall in Torrance CA. No trace of the theater now.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 4, 2006 at 3:53 am

I am copying below from the “News” section Gary Parks comments. He mailed me a CD and with his consent, I have posted photos on my flickr gallery so everyone can see the TWO layers of movie theater history present at the Metro. The auditorium has the 1941 murals on view, and the 1924 columns hidden. Apparently, in 1998, the rehab did the reverse with the lobby, bringing it back to original 1924 design rather than the 1941 decoration. The photos show what you don’t see.
Being in Philadelphia, I haven’t visited since 1997, so if I am incorrect, Gary or others can advise. Ok, here’s the first of the photos that Gary sent me, the others follow:
View link

Firstoff, a little historic correction: The theatre was designed by James and Merrit Reid. The office of Timothy Pflueger did the 1941 remodel, which is mainly what one sees today in the auditorium. The vertical sign dates from this time, but the marquee dates from an earlier and more lighthanded redecoration, as does the deco sunburst pattern you see today on the inner lobby ceiling once you enter.

The plasterwork in the outer and inner lobbies is mostly from 1924. The paintwork on the outer lobby ceiling is 1924, save for some minor embellishments by artist Kelly Cool during the 1998 refurbishing. She also did the arched murals which are on either side as you proceed from the outer to inner lobby.

The lobby as remodeled by Pflueger no longer exists, having been totally removed during the 1998 refurbishing, at which time the original 1924 lobby was largely restored, with some sympathetic updating.

The auditorium features murals by the Heinsbergen decorating firm. These date from Pflueger’s remodeling. The ceiling, save for the 1998 acoustical panels, chandeliers and 1941 paint, is from 1924.

Behind the draped and plastered angled walls on either side of the screen are hidden extensive intact remnants if the 1924 auditorium. These include large Ionic columns surmounted by eagles clutching shields, and arched niches containing urns and long-disconnected cove lighting. The organ chambers, though empty, are intact, and their openwork grilles, though slightly damaged, are largely extant.

I was one of the historical advisors to the 1998 renovation, and was a guest at the subsequent Grand Reopening. I would love to see the Metro escape demolition, even if it meant only a partial retention of the building. While preserving the building intact would be my first choice, even a reuse of the building’s shell, with a restoration of the facade’s key decorative elements is preferable to complete demolition, which will likely give birth to yet another example of slavish, tired devotion to the long-outdated and academically-loved but (usually) publically-loathed Bauhaus style, or worse, a poorly proportioned attempt at historicism such as is so common today—a style best described as “Lego Mediterranean.”

All this being said, I am not currently in a position to actively help in the fight to save the Metro—professional and preexisting volunteer obligations preclude this—but I would be more than happy to share copies of the photos I took in 1998 of the 1924 architectural features which exist behind the 1941 walls, as well as extensive knowledge of theatres designed by Reid Bros., having been closely involved with the ongoing preservation and restoration efforts at the Reid-designed Golden State Theatre in Monterey, as well as a little aid in the efforts to save San Francisco’s Harding Theatre.
posted by Gary Parks on Sep 19, 2006 at 1:12pm

butters
butters on October 10, 2006 at 2:37 pm

Sadly, the Metro closed down last week.

ZabrinaTipton
ZabrinaTipton on October 9, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Speaking of the Lee’s that operate the 4 Star and Presidio, as was posted above, our family went to the Cars opening weekend there and 20 people were there. It was a Saturday late morning movie. It was such a disappointment to see the lack of people supporting a neighborhood theatre.

I was moved though to witness how Lee family works so hard at the Presidio Theatre: at the window, the door, the concession stand and starting the movies. The bathrooms are clean and the theatres are wonderfully set-up with Red Curtains and wonderful layouts for seating.

Truly,
Zabrina

Coate
Coate on September 22, 2006 at 12:45 am

The Metro was one of San Francisco’s 70mm-equipped houses.

View link

afelder
afelder on September 21, 2006 at 8:02 am

As the President of the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, I wanted to be sure to provide some information about our organization given the comments above. The Theater Foundation was the driving public force behind saving both the Presidio and Cinema 21 theaters. We organized public testimony supporting preservation of the Presidio and had extensive conversations with the the family that owns the Presidio in advance of their coming to terms with Frank Lee on a lease agreement.

We were also the primary organizers of the campaign to save the Cinema 21. Our efforts led to the defeat at the Planning Commission of the original plan to eliminate the theater. We then came up with the compromise plan to save the theater and initiated the conversations with the property owner that led to the deal to save the theater. We also helped to fund initial architectural study of the compromise plan. The Cinema 21 will re-open as the Marina Theatre next year (it premiered as the Marina Theater).

Our work was also essential to the 2004 local landmarking of the New Mission Theatre and plans are currently being developed to re-open the New Mission as multi-purpose entertainment venue. The New Mission was slated for demolition only a few years ago.

More recently, we worked with the Board of Supervisors to enact legislation that provides significant protections to neighborhood theaters by requiring Conditional Use review of any plan to convert a theatre to another use. Plans for the Coronet were submitted just before the enactment of this legislation. We are already seeing signs that he legislation is having an impact and hopefully the Coronet will be the last theater to be demolished in San Francisco for some time. It is possible that the 4-Star Theater will be saved as a direct result of this legislation. It should also be noted that the Alexandria Theater building will not go away and that the current property owners have committed to maintaining a theater in the building. We’re currently working to do whatever we can to preserve theaters like the Metro and the Vogue and I hope people realize that Regal’s departure from the Metro is not likely to be the end of movie-going at this Theater.

Given the multiple threats to neighborhood theaters from multiplexes, home theatres and escalating real estate values saving neighborhood theaters is a very challenging task. Despite these challenges, however, we are having some success. Unfortunately, we can not control the whim of corporations like Regal Entertainment that have little concern for their few remaining neighborhood theatre properties. Regal was behind the recent closings of the Alexandria, Coronet and Galaxy theatres and is now behind the closing of the Metro.

The Theater Foundation is an all-volunteer organization and we focus our energy on advocacy and working to establish policies through legislation that help to protect San Francisco’s theaters. Our popular outdoor film series began as an extension of our advocacy efforts – a creative way to bring film back to neighborhoods that had lost many, if not all, of their neighborhood theaters (i.e. North Beach, Noe Valley and the Mission).

I hope this clears up some of the confusion about what the Theater Foundation has done and is doing. Perhaps you can all help us spread the word about what we do or drop me a line at if you would like to learn more. Meanwhile, we are doing whatever we can to save the Metro and are optimistic that a positive outcome is possible.

GaryParks
GaryParks on September 19, 2006 at 3:37 pm

I will always remember a delightful bit of showmanship employed on the night I first attended the Metro, in 1984…to see the then current remake of the Orwellian, “1984,” with John Hurt and Richard Burton (the latter’s final feature). After the previews, the curtain closed, all the deco chandeliers dimmed to their RED circuit, and Eurythmics' then popular hit, “Sex Crime (1984)” boomed over the sound system, fading out about 2/3 of the way into the song on the line, “pull the bricks down one by one by one…” Then the curtain raised once more, the lights went to their BLUE circuit, and the film began. Whoever was the manager back then had a true flair for theatrics! I will never forget it!