Hillsdale Cinema

3011 S. El Camino Real,
San Mateo, CA 94403

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The single screen Hillsdale was built in the mid 1960’s and operated by General Cinema Corp. until it closed in 1997.

The lobby walls featured wall to wall glass panels with brown drapes that could be drawn to keep the sun out.

It was twinned in the early 1970’s and four-plexed in the late 70’s. The walls of the auditorium were paneled with steel siding! By the time the theater closed in 1998, it was very worn out. The cinema still had the original seats from the 60’s. It remained empty for three years before being converted into a furniture store in 2000.

Contributed by mike croaro

Recent comments (view all 34 comments)

hushpuppy212
hushpuppy212 on January 19, 2010 at 4:18 am

I saw a lot of movies here in the 70’s and 80’s, including Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and All the President’s Men. Didn’t they tear down that wonderful Foster’s Fried Chicken restaurant to build the theatre? (They had the best fried chicken, with mashed potatoes and cream gravy. The perfect Sunday dinner.)

Paul68
Paul68 on May 22, 2010 at 9:21 am

My first Job was working at the Hillsdale Cinema.( 1984). I served popcorn, drinks and candy. The movies playing the first day I started were: far-lap, Places in the heart, A soldiers Story, and Starman. Everyone working there were teenagers and we had a lott of fun. ( Goofing Around). Got to see many free movies, and eat all the free popcorn. I allways let my friends into the movies for free. My uniform was the standard black polyester pants, white dress shirt and clip on tie. After work I would cruise up and down the El Camino.
There were hundreds of teenagers cruising the El Camino. San Mateo is a totally different place. Everyone I know has moved away. No more Hillsdale Cinema just memories.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Paul68,just be glad you got to work in a theatre,seems like most of the folks on CT never had the fun we did because we worked in the business,Me 7 years and for GCC. Our REGENCY MALL I.II.&III looked the same as yours inside.

tarantex
tarantex on May 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm

HEY mike, was david blackburn the Manager when you worked there?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 23, 2010 at 2:07 am

John,if you are asking Mike R,No.I don’t ever recall a David Blackburn working at Regency.

Fastphilly
Fastphilly on February 3, 2012 at 9:42 am

I seen “Superman” there in 1978 and I still remember my shoes sticking to the floor with what felt like syrup..That was the most untidy theater I ever watched a flick in.

DaveFogerson
DaveFogerson on September 12, 2012 at 4:51 am

A few versions of the “Feature Presentation” trailers that played at this and other GCC cinemas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F_tv1XNoCc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=m6uHhUKURYE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=dDK0U6OEc_w&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6oc1EYKRlg&feature=related

lagunagolf
lagunagolf on February 16, 2013 at 12:52 am

Lynn Blackburn was manager of Hillsdale when it was a single (end of 60’s) and was mgr when it was twinned around 1972. He was transfered to LA in 72-73 when GCC bought Loew’s of So. California. PS—the theatre never had sticky floors during this period of time.

OCSlacker
OCSlacker on April 9, 2013 at 7:39 am

I was the closing manager for this theatre. Hillsdale was my first GM position. Before that, I was an assistant at GCC in Fremont. It was really run down by the time it closed but was a cash cow. Could never understand why they would close a theatre that made the company so much money.I can say that working here wasn’t my first choice.I tried to clean it up but it always seemed like it was never enough.Rats ran rampant throughout the building and I have a huge fear of those little critters. Almost quit my first day there because of that problem. The worst day was when someone drove by and shot out the huge windows in the lobby while the theatre was being closed for the night. The one plus I can give it was that the projectionist decorated the upstairs in all old movie posters and memorabilia. He worked there for over 20 years and saved everything, even an old spot light from the early 60’s that I was able to take home when the theartre closed it’s doors. Unfortunately, no one outside of the employees ever saw the projection booth. Also, loved watching movies from the small balcony off of the booth. Seemed like no one every knew I was I up there. Fremont on the other hand holds many dear memories for me. Cleanest theatre I have ever worked in and the hardest working employees I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Sometimes wish it was still around.

pbignardi
pbignardi on July 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I generally liked this theater, but it had the most unusual seats that were attached to some sort of sliding apparatus. It allowed you to move around in your seat a bit, but by the end of the movie your back was toast.

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