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This theater stood on the property immediately to the North of the Del Mar Theatre on Pacific Avenue between the terminus of Soquel Avenue and the crossing of Cathcart Street.
It opened as Swain’s Theatre in the very late Nineteenth Century, named after actor, Mack Swain. The facade had a simple entrance with no marquee canopy. "SWAIN’S THEATRE" was written above the entrance in lightbulbs. Three circular windows—the center one a bit larger than the other two—looked out over Pacific Avenue from the second story. Around these windows was ornamental plaster filagree, which could loosely be termed Art Nouveau. Above this was a more typical Neo-Classical cornice.
The theater originally featured legitimate theater and vaudeville. By at least the 1920’s, movies were the main fare, and the name had changed to Unique Theatre. The Unique Theatre was later given a traditional vertical sign and rectangular marquee. The latter featured lightbulb tracery which had a slight Art Nouveau flare. When the Del Mar Theatre opened next door in 1936, the Unique Theatre closed.
A photograph taken on the date of the Del Mar’s opening shows the two theaters standing side-by-side. Within the year, the Unique Theatre was gone, and the street frontage was replaced by a one story, aqua and grey terra cotta clad Art Deco commercial building which still stands today.
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