301 West Main Street,
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The Elite Theatre was opened in 1914. It was later renamed Strand Theatre, then Rio Theatre. By 1926 it was operated by T & D Jr. Enterprises as the Merced Theatre. It was remodeled by the Reid Bros. architectural firm in 1930 by Golden State Theatres, a dominant circuit in Central and Northern California. It re-opened on October 31, 1931.
It became part of United Artists Theatres in the mid-1970’s and by the mid-1980’s, the original 1,658-seat auditorium had become four screens.
The Merced Theatre closed in the Spring of 2002 because of competition from a new stadium theater which opened a block away. In July of 2002, the city of Merced approved the purchase of this theatre for $700,000, half the $1.4 million asking price. According to the Merced Sun-Star it will be managed by the Merced Theatre Foundation, a non-profit agency, renovation work would take at least 3 years and up to $3 million to complete. The theatre is to operate as a community theatre, and it also has street-level shops and upper-level apartments.
Only 300 seats were being used in what was screen 2, but this operation closed in 2009. By 2012, the entire theatre has re-opened as a single auditorium known as the Art Kamanger Center at the Merced Theatre.
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