Laurel Theatre

1500 Laurel Street,
San Carlos, CA 94070

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Laurel terrazzo

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The Laurel Theatre opened in February 1949. It had a large 1,200-seat auditorium (single level, no balcony). The loge seating area had Heywood -Wakefield Airflo TC-706 rocking seats. The main seating area had H-W Encore TC-700 style seats.

The theater was a porn house for a short while in the late-1970’s.

Second run features ran at the complex in the early-1980’s, but the theater closed around 1982 and remained vacant until 1999 when it was torn down.

Contributed by Mike Croaro

Recent comments (view all 27 comments)

DataGirl on August 25, 2008 at 1:38 pm

The Laurel Theater was built by Harvey Amusement and operated by the Westlane Theaters. The two companies were owned primarily by the Harvey Brothers. H.V. (Rotus) Harvey and R. W. (Rodda) Harvey owned Westlane, with Rotus based in San Francisco and Rodda based in Stockton where the company owned 5 theaters including the Stockton, and two drive-ins. In the mid 1950’s, the chain was the “biggest little theater chain” in the country according to their advertising. They owned or operated theaters all over California and Nevada, focusing on small towns. The Harveys started their business in Watsonville at the Pajaro theater in the 1920s. THey also built the Manor Theater in San Mateo and the Stockton in Stockton. They operated the Palm Theater in San Mateo for a period of time, as well as the Santa Clara Theater, which they may have built. Brother Julian Harvey also operated theaters, including two in San Jose prior to WW II. Brother-in-law Morris Lathrop ran the Oakdale Theater for the company, too.

The Laurel, Manor, and Stockton were all built to be the highest quality. The rocking loges in the upper part of the theater were wonderful.

Westlane Therater operations shrank with the advent of television. Ultimately, Rotus retired in the late 1960s, leaving younger brother Rodda to operate and liquidate the last few theaters in the Stockton area. An inaccurate history of Rodda exists on the Internet where he is confused with a distant cousin. The family and business history is inaccurate as well. Rotus’s daughter survives and has photos of the interior and the exterior during its glory days.

Vintage2B on January 4, 2009 at 9:04 am

My favorite memory: Seeing “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” with my younger brother in the afternoon, then hauling my mom and dad down to see it with us in the evening! Then a milkshake at the Teddy Bear Fountain next door. The 1950s, of course. I also spent many a great time at the miniature golf course across the street. Those were the days!

kencmcintyre on January 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

Note the name of the apartment complex on the site:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 8, 2009 at 12:36 am

An article about the Laurel Theatre appeared in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of July 2, 1949, and a photo of the theater’s lounge was featured on the cover of that issue’s Modern Theatre section.

Information about the Laurel’s architect, Frederick W. Quandt, is scant on the Internet, but Therese Poletti and Tom Paiva’s book “Art Deco San Francisco: The Architecture of Timothy Pflueger” contains the interesting revelation that Pflueger’s maternal grandfather was named Frederick Quandt. I’ve been unable to confirm a connection, but it seems possible that architects Frederick W. Quandt and Timothy Pflueger were cousins.

Quandt designed more theaters then the two currently listed at Cinema Treasures (the Stockton Theatre was the other), but I’ve tracked down only two others, and can’t confirm that either of these projects was completed. A June, 1938, report in Architect & Engineer said that Quandt had drawn plans for a theater to be constructed at Sonora, California, by Harvey Amusement.

An article in the Eugene (Oregon) Register-Guard of February 8, 1946, said that theater operator A. West Johnson had gone to San Francisco to consult with architect Frederick Quandt on the final plans for a new theater he would build at Broadway and Charnelton Street in Eugene. Construction was to begin as soon as materials became available.

There’s also a possibility that Quandt designed the Manor Theatre in San Mateo, built in 1941 for Westland Theatres, a company associated with Harvey Amusement. Other houses designed for Harvey or Westland during the 1930s and 1940s might be Quandt designs, but I’ve been unable to find any confirmation for any of them.

If anybody has additional information about Frederick Quandt please share it.

AprendaPresents on July 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Architect and Engineer in 1950 has an entry that Western Theaters Inc of Palo Alto hired Frederick W. Quandt to design anew reinforced concrete thater containing 1408 seats.

AprendaPresents on March 31, 2011 at 2:39 am

Frederick W. Quandt’s application to AIA includes references to “San Mateo Theater” and “Harvey Amusement”. This would be the Manor Theater. During WWII, Quandt designed the relocation centers. The file contains pictures of some of his structures, including the Stockton theater and several SF buildlings.
View link

AprendaPresents on March 31, 2011 at 3:21 am

The Captain Satellite photo showed Rickey Coffey the son(grandson?) of long-time Laurel theater manager Eddie Coffey.

ksue48 on February 3, 2012 at 10:59 am

My sister and I lived down the street and used to go to every Saturday matinee when we were kids. We also used to play miniature golf at the little place across the street, and spent our allowance at Jax (sp?) dime store that was also on Laurel, I believe. Some of my best memories are of afternoons at the movies there. I wonder how many of you commenting might have known me! We moved away when I was 12, but we both went to White Oaks and Central schools. Good memories!

larrygoldsmith on March 16, 2013 at 9:58 am

This theatre was never operated by National General Theatres/ Fox West Coast. Was opened and operated for many years by Westside Valley Theatres.

Oss on December 22, 2013 at 8:27 am

I worked there in the 70s. Took tickets, sold candy and popcorn, and saw lots of great movies. Was a student at College of San Mateo,and got a job there during Star Wars premier. The lines were down the street, sold out every show for at least 6 months!!!! First, there WAS a balcony (reference the comment under the picture on this page)! I also was a projectionist for a while, when the projectors still used carbon arc as a light source. I also worked at the Tivoli, when Saturday Night Fever, and Rocky Horror showed there. Man, what great memories.

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