Chimes Theatre

5631 College Avenue,
Oakland, CA 94618

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This theater opened as the Chimes Theatre, was later renamed the Uptown Theatre, but was once again renamed the Chimes Theatre. This old Oakland movie house has also been lost.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

gsmurph
gsmurph on April 25, 2004 at 9:06 am

The Chimes (its original name, by the way) was built by the Beach-Krahn Amusements Company and opened in December 1917. Originally a Period Revival structure, it was the first US theater to feature a row of chimes (hence, its name) on a projecting bay 40 feet above the ground. The first of many remodels was by architect James Plachek in 1920; the projection room was re-equipped on February 14, 1929 from plans by Allen J. Yerrick. In 1931 it received a new Moderne exterior by Alexander Aimwell Cantin and was renamed the Uptown; Cantin would do a subsequent exterior remodeling in the 1940’s. By the late 1930’s the theater was once more called the Chimes (though the row of chimes was by then gone). By the early 1950’s the Chimes had closed as a theater.

In February 1958 a a skating rink was installed on the second floor; ads read in part “Chimes Skateland—-Just a Little Nicer.” A short-lived trampoline studio was aded in 1960, and in 1961, a bowling alley, “Chimes Lanes,” was built. But about 1963, a fire occured that closed the building for good, and in April 1965, the Cleveland Wrecking Company finished the job to make way for the Grove-Shafter (William Byron Rumford) Freeway.

gsmurph
gsmurph on July 23, 2004 at 12:53 am

The Chimes was long gone by 1969—-could Andy T. be referring to the Elmwood instead?

AndyT
AndyT on August 19, 2004 at 10:42 am

I think you are right gsmurph. Certainly the dates make more sense, and as you may be aware memories become a bit fuzzy after 35 years.

BobWhitehill
BobWhitehill on May 20, 2005 at 12:57 pm

Where would one look for photographs of the Chimes Theatre?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 3, 2005 at 4:33 am

A Wurlitzer organ Opus 163 Style 1 PL was installed in the Chimes Theater on 1/1/1918. A Wurlitzer organ Opus 429 Style 160 SP replaced the previous organ on 6/27/1921.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 10, 2008 at 8:20 pm

From the Oakland Library, via the Online Archive of California, here is College Avenue in 1930, the Uptown Theatre in the distance (photo is highly zoom-able, so you can get a decent, though oblique, look at the front.)

lcowan
lcowan on April 21, 2008 at 5:27 pm

In the early fifties I was in elementary school living on Hillegass near Claremont. During summer vacation, the Chimes had a Wednesday afternoon program, a respite for our mothers, who were all housewives, of course. We walked up to the Chimes and saw a few cartoons, a newsreel, a serial episode (Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen was featured one year), and two movies, all for 75 cents.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 14, 2009 at 11:25 pm

The Chimes was part of the theater lineup in the Oakkland Tribune in January 1922:
http://tinyurl.com/pcqcne

EdBear
EdBear on January 16, 2014 at 11:12 pm

I think this is mostly wrong. And, how the hell I happened to think of the Chimes tonight escapes me. I grew up on Shafter Ave. and lived there from 1939 until 1954. The Chimes was the place where I kissed my first girl (Jerilyn Sullivan) probably in 1953. The movie was Calamity Jane, and I can remember it to this day. Secret Love was the hit song that came from it. As a kid, we went to all the Saturday matinees, then played cowboys and indians all the way home. The building is still there, it never burned down. It’s been divided into two stores, but if you squint, you can still see what it was. Boy, that was a long time ago. I still wonder what became of Jerilyn; what a sweet girl she was.

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