San Mateo Theatre

66 E. 3rd Avenue,
San Mateo, CA 94401

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Showing 12 comments

pnelson on July 12, 2015 at 2:59 am

One of the most handsome interiors for a theatre in the country. Rivals LA’S best. Art Deco meets mission. What a tragedy not to save it. The exterior is great too.

rivest266 on July 11, 2015 at 7:54 pm

July 23rd, 1925 grand opening ad in photo section.

AndrewBarrett on September 26, 2014 at 8:51 am

What an awesome-looking interior, and I normally don’t really care for Art Deco! (although I do think those theatres should be preserved, too). Too bad it’s no longer a theatre, although good the building is still there.

I note the organ console in the pictures, could this be a Smith or Leathurby-Smith organ?

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, pg. 629, there was a 2 manual, 8 rank Leathurby-Smith organ installed at a “Balboa Th.” in San Mateo, California, in 1925. No blower info is given, but as you can see, most of the essential details are there. I see no mention of a “Balboa Theatre” in San Mateo, and so assume this must be a misprint(?) and perhaps they are referring to the San Mateo Theatre(?) Does anybody know what happened to this organ?


tarantex on August 16, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Go ahead and email me direct at .and i will help you out with what i know and have pictures of the theatre.

kencmcintyre on August 16, 2009 at 8:32 am

Here is a November 1953 ad from the SMT:

woodcubed on July 2, 2009 at 7:37 am

Mr. Tarantino,

I am a San Mateo resident doing a project on the San Mateo Theater. I am trying to gather any images I can, especially of the front of the the theater, and the box office. The photos I have so far been able to find are all at a distance and obscure the area under the marquee. If you have any other information or photos of the theater I would greatly appreciate hearing from you, or simply a chance to speak with you about the theater. Thank you.

kencmcintyre on August 26, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Here is a 1965 ad from the San Mateo Times:

tarantex on June 17, 2007 at 1:45 am

I use to change the marquee when San Carlos Cinemas leased it from Mann Theatres, The theatre was so run down from when mann theatres ran it the upstairs balcony was closed off the upstairs lobby which in itsday circled around that was boarded up and used to store all kinds of theatre crap, i remember when Beverly and scrappy ran it for mann it was the philtist dump, Bev use to live in the Janitors Closet and they would drink the night away at the Ben Franks, when i was changing the marquee all seats were a $ 1.oo what a fun time that was

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 14, 2004 at 4:25 pm

The architect’s of the San Mateo Theater were Irving F. Morrow and William I. Garren.

GaryParks on October 16, 2002 at 10:01 pm

The San Mateo was NOT torn down, though it was lost as a theatre. It still stands, in use as an office and retail building. Most of its Greco-Renaissance hybrid facade was allowed to remain intact, though the central arched pavilion feature and marquee were removed.

The interior was arguably the first, possibly anywhere, to be decorated in what would ultimately be known as Art Deco, the decorative scheme having been changed during construction to reflect the era’s changes in taste.

William on October 16, 2002 at 4:43 pm

The San Mateo theatre was located at 66 3rd Street. In the early 30’s it was operated by Fox West Coast Theatres. And was still with the chain till the early 70’s, under the National General Corp.