Monterey Theatre

21 Alvarado Street,
Monterey, CA 93940

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Monterey Theatre

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This theater opened circa 1904 and was demolished in 1967. For a short time, late in its life, the Wharf Theatre Co. moved into the Monterey after their theater burned on the Monterey Warf.

The Monterey was always known as the flea house. The theater had a sloping concrete floor. A former manager/projectionist told me kids loved to drop soda bottles at the back of the auditorium and get a charge from hearing them roll all the way to the orchestra pit!

In 1926, the Monterey was retro-fitted with a 2 manual 4 rank piano console Wurlitzer from the old O'Farrel Street Orpheum Th. in San Francisco.

Contributed by Tom DeLay

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

tomdelay
tomdelay on September 27, 2002 at 8:56 pm

When the theatre first opened in 1904, it was called the T. A. Work Opera House. Tom Work was a local business man who also owned a lumber yard between Monterey and Pacific Grove.

tomdelay
tomdelay on December 7, 2002 at 9:53 pm

The stage opening of the Monterey Theatre was 36' side and had a fly loft.

William
William on November 13, 2003 at 6:35 pm

The Monterey Theatre’s address is 21 Alvarado Street.

michaelaine
michaelaine on September 6, 2004 at 7:06 am

I was an actor with the Wharf Theater in 1962-63, and have fond memories of the place. In those days, an impresario named Fred Foresman produced musicals with big name actors in feature roles at this theater. I don’t remember it as a “flea house” at all. It had reasonably large and complete dressing areas, and swinging doors at one side of the lobby which led into The Player’s Club – a very cozy bar with red flocked wallpaper, old brass registers and a back bar that had been shipped around Cape Horn. At around this same time, Foresman was managing a national tour of Dame Judith Anderson in Medea. He was a real gentleman, and certified the Equity points I earned at this venue. I’d love to hear from anyone who remembers those days.

tomdelay
tomdelay on June 15, 2005 at 9:59 pm

There has not been one local whom I have talked to who has remembered the Monterey Theatre and not called it “The Flea House”. Perhaps by 1962 all the fleas had died from lack of a movie product.

I vividly remember the exterior of the Monterey Theatre, but I was never allowed to go to a movie there—you got it!—my folks did not want to go to “The Flea House”. Our hotel was directly next door (Kimball Hotel built in 1849 and remodeled in 1925) and I remember well the color of this end of Alvarado Street. Perhaps the flea house name comes from the fact the former T. A. Work Opera House was built on what had been the beach of Monterey Bay. Gradually, via back-fill, the beach was pushed further out into Monterey Bay.

A curious fact of the Monterey/T.A. Work Opera House is that the northeast corner of the stage was cut at a 45 degree angle to allow
the street and railroad to pass behind the theatre.

GaryParks
GaryParks on June 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm

The photos posted here are not the Monterey Theatre, which was long ago demolished, but the Regency Theatre, originally known as the Strand and then the Rio.

YaledMot
YaledMot on February 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm

The photo above is totally incorrect. That is the 1917 Strand Theatre almost across Alvarado from the Golden State Theatre. Only this year has the Strand/Regency ceased to exist, though the Elks Building it was in, survives. Gary’s info above is correct.

YaledMot
YaledMot on February 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Regarding the Monterey Theatre and NOT the photo above, I learned one of my first music teachers in Monterey, Forest “Frosty” Durland also played the organ and piano quite well. I was talking to a member of the Monterey Stock Family who played in a pit group at the Monterey Theatre in the late 1950s—and that the Wurlitzer was still in the theatre and playable. “Frosty” Durland played the piano console organ with the group. I would hate to think of this intrument’s fate when the building was demolished.

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