Merced Theatre

301 West Main Street,
Merced, CA 95340

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Showing 1 - 25 of 33 comments

Mikeyisirish on December 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm

A few July 2012 photos can be seen here and here.

ajtarantex on October 27, 2012 at 12:06 am

The Theater is completely restored and is open now

jerryellis on December 15, 2010 at 10:39 am

My parents operated a department store on 17th and K in Merced. As I recall there was a small theatre, The Rio, located on 16th near K, which showed mostly Spanish speaking movies. This was in the late 40s and 50s.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 28, 2009 at 11:49 am

This is the National Register of Historic Places registration form for the Merced Theater. The architects were James Reid and Merritt Reid.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 15, 2009 at 9:28 am

According to the Merced Theater website, status should be Closed/Restoring.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 16, 2009 at 7:31 pm

This is a December 2008 photo.

William on August 11, 2008 at 8:58 am

The Merced Theatre opened on Saturday, October 31, 1931 by Golden State and Realty Company.

tomdelay on October 3, 2007 at 7:00 pm

BTW, in case you have not seen it:

tomdelay on October 3, 2007 at 6:58 pm

Before the previous owner left the theatre, I was able to go through the theatre from top to bottom. This theatre really “got it” from the previous owner. It should be absolutely stunning when it is all put back together. The stage is astoundingly large for a movie/vaudeville house with plenty of wing space. In the orchestra ready room under the stage, I found a couple of what were probably original seat end standards.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 3, 2007 at 6:48 pm

This press release dated 8/31/2007 gives the opening date of the Merced Theater as October 31, 1931. Seat count given is 1,645.

tomdelay on October 3, 2007 at 6:34 pm

Joe pointed out on the Mainzer page /theaters/4405/ of this website that the Strand name appears to have been moved to the former Merced Theatre #1 about 1936. This would make sense to differentiate the older theatre from this present-day Merced Theatre of 1931.

So let’s see here: We have (in no particular order) for Merced:

Elite Theatre (1914)
Strand Theatre
Rio Theatre
Merced Theatre (1921?)(Strand, Mainzer)
Merced theatre (1931)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 3, 2007 at 5:41 pm

In 1914 there was also a theatre called the Elite operating in Merced. In that year the manager of the Elite, C.H. Douglas, formed a company with plans to build a new theatre.

tomdelay on October 3, 2007 at 3:15 pm

There is some thinking that the Merced #1 was also named the Strand at some point. Could be, there were a few Strand Theatres in the Valley, but mostly very old. The Strand in Modesto had a Wurlitzer that was installed in 1918! Monterey had a Strand Theatre of 1917.

A late friend of mine who once lived in Merced, tracked down the information about the Merced #1 and the organ burning up. Ken Roe has the Film Daily Yearbook, but I don’t think his records go back that far. However, if a Strand or Rio shows up on FDY, at least there would be an address to work with.

I visited the Merced Theatre Foundation website this morning. Things are moving along with the fundraising with a nearly $2m grant given for restoration of the 1931 Merced.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 3, 2007 at 10:53 am

Thanks Tom. I found two theaters mentioned for Merced, California that I don’t see listed on this website. One was the Rio Theater and the other was the Strand Theater. No timelines or addresses given. Both theaters were “small” with the Strand being the larger of the two. Maybe someone with a Film Daily Yearbook could verify the existence of these two theaters.

tomdelay on October 3, 2007 at 10:14 am

Here is something I just added to the Mainzer’s Cinema Treasure’s page blog: /theaters/4405/

Now to add more confusion to things, the 5-rank Wurlitzer went to the original Merced Theatre in 1921. That is a given from the Wurlitzer opus list. In 1920, the Wicks Organ Company of Highland, IL (still in business) shipped a small theatre organ to an unnamed theatre in Merced and was their Opus 311. So now the question, was there a Merced Theatre 1 AND a Strand Theatre—two different locations? It is highly unlikely that on theatre bought the Wicks and then the next year bought the Wurlitzer.

tomdelay on October 3, 2007 at 9:58 am

Yes, it was what is now the Mainzer Theatre. The organ was to have been moved to the new theatre in 1931. However Merced Theatre #1 had a fire that took out the stage and organ. As a result the organ was hauled to the dump with the other debris.

It was not much of an organ and without major additions, it would never have been of much use in the new theatre. Style 170: 2-manuals 5-ranks Open Diapason 85 pipes, Trumpet 61 pipes, Vox Humana 61 pipes, Flute 97 pipes, Dulciana 73 pipes plus the usual percussions.

If you go behind the Mainzer Theatre, you can see where the original stage loading doors were—now bricked-in. I have oftne wonderd if the 1930+ redo of the present Mainzer was not done by S. Charles Lee.
The redone interior (after the fire) looks very much like a Lee design. According to some old theatre books which had a bio on Lee, he did the redesign of the marquee on the present Merced Theatre,
circa 1943 or so.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 3, 2007 at 7:37 am

Was there an earlier Merced Theater? A Wurlitzer theater organ opus 438 style 170 was installed in a Merced Theater in Merced, California on 7/27/1921.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 18, 2007 at 11:42 am

Here is a photo of the Merced Theater at night.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 12, 2007 at 5:58 pm

This is another close-up view of the Merced Theater.

Sam2 on May 25, 2007 at 11:03 am

Drama Dude, I actually found a recent photo of our old house. It is indeed 171 E. Main St. now and looks to have blue siding on it now, when it was white stucco back then. I was shocked to find it for sale for close to $300,000.00, pretty good for what was a $85.00 a month rent house in 1963!
This was the house I always believed was haunted. On our first day of moving in,(we moved from the $80.00 a month house next door), I was sitting at the top of the stairs, (most of the attic had been converted into a 3rd bedroom).

I was looking all around thinking we we’re just like the people on TV now, because we had a two story house. Then I noticed the attic door was open, it was closed when I sat down. I got up and closed it, and made sure it was latched, then sat down again, to continue my grandeous day dreaming, and heard the attic door slowly creak open, then turned to watch it open as wide as it would go. I took the stairs two at a time, and neither my brother, or I, would sleep in that room, unless my grandparents slept in there.
The stairs were very narrow, and steep, and there was a small landing where they turned. Our Toy Poodle couldn’t get up, or down the stairs, he had to be carried. One morning he woke my mother up with a slow persistant barking. She thought he wanted to be let out, but when she got up to look for him, she couldn’t find him, he was at the top of the stairs, and wanted someone to come get him down.
My brother and I were getting dressed for school one morning, and he told me he woke up during the night, and there was an old man sitting at the foot of our bed. I asked him why he didn’t yell, and wake someone up?
He said he was too scared, and that he pulled the covers over his head, waited then looked, and he was still there. He said he did it two more times, and finally on the third time, the man was gone.
We refused to sleep without a night light, it was a small lamp that sat on top of our chest of drawers. One night after we’d gone to bed, we were talking quietly, and the light went out. We BOLTED down the hall, and into the living room. My dad told us we were babies, and scardy cats, and that the light bulb had probably just burned out. He walked us back in to our room, turned the switch, and the lamp came right back on!
I would never stay alone in that house, I remember once when my mother had taken my brother to the doctor, I wasn’t allowed to go, and after a few minutes alone, I got the dog, and sat on the front porch and watched TV through the screen door until my mom came home.
My mother even admitted, (in later years), that she always felt like someone was watching her in that house.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 18, 2007 at 3:19 pm

A 2007 photo of the Merced Theater can be seen here.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 24, 2007 at 8:09 am

This is another recent photo of the Merced Theater.