Sierra Theatre

915 11th Avenue,
Delano, CA 93215

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Delano Sierra Theatre

This beautiful theatre is located in the heart of the economicaly depressed city of Delano, 30 miles north of the city of Bakersfield, in Southern California. It has one screen and has one screening a night. The Sierra Theatre was planned in 1938 (to the designs of architect S. Charles Lee), it was eventually built for Panero Theatres to the designs of architect Vincent G. Raney. It opened on August 6, 1946 with Dana Andrews in “Canyon Passage”.

It seems the Sierra Theatre was closed in 2008.

Contributed by frenchjr25

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2008 at 11:44 pm

The Sierra Theatre was apparently designed by none other than S. Charles Lee, in 1938, for an owner named Frank Panero. An article in Southwest Builder and Contractor of May 20, 1938 announced that Lee was preparing the plans for the theatre, giving the projected cost as $25,000, but claiming a seating capacity of merely 350, which would be rather small for a building of the Sierra’s size.

The website for the S. Charles Lee collection at UCLA contains no photos or drawings of the Sierra, but the finding aid reveals that information on the theatre can be found in Box 6, folder 15 of the collection, and either plans or renderings or both are in the collection’s oversized folder 250.

The finding aid also reveals the existence of a Lee-designed (or perhaps remodeled) Wasco Theatre in Wasco, California (a few miles from Delano), also designed for Frank Panera. No photos or drawings of the Wasco on the website, either, but here’s a photo of it from the Kern County Library’s collection. The Wasco now houses a church.

Also, note that the Lee website uses the spelling “theatre” for all the theatres he designed. It is also the spelling on the marquee of the Wasco.

JillKleinman on March 12, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Thought you would like to know that the Sierra Theatre was, in fact, built for Frank Panero. He was my grandfather. My mom, Frank’s daughter-in-law, said that Frank Panero bought the Wasco Theatre and had it renovated. Those are just 2 of many theatres that were owned by Frank Panero.

kencmcintyre on November 11, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Frank Panero was mentioned in a Fresno Bee article dated 6/27/29. he was the owner and manager of the Delano Theater, which was damaged in a fire on that date.

GaryParks on November 11, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Indeed this has major hallmarks of S. Charles Lee’s work: The lotus-shaped sculpted elements on the end bays of the facade, the large flutings on the central curved portion, and the horozontal neon bands and more acutely-curved sections between the aforementioned elements—one can find these all on other Lee theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm

The Southwest Builder and Contractor article I cited in my February 20, 2008, comment above was from May, 1938, but it appears that the construction of the Sierra Theatre was delayed for many years. The opening of the Sierra was announced in the August 17, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, which said the house had opened on August 6. The opening feature was “Canyon Passage.”

The article did say that completion of the project had been delayed due to shortages of materials, but it seems unlikely that such a delay would have lasted six years. Most likely, construction was not begun until near or shortly after the end of WWII.

The Boxoffice item also gives a much larger seating capacity- 894- than the Southwest Builder & Contractor article had. The theater obviously must have been redesigned between the original announcement and the actual construction.

The article adds that Frank Panero and his sons Ernest and August would continue to operate the Delano Theatre, as well. It also said that in addition to the Delano houses the Panero Theatre Company was then operating two houses in each of the valley towns of West Delano, Shafter, Reedley, and Wasco, and one house each in McFarland and Sanger.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 23, 2010 at 4:06 am

It turns out that S. Charles Lee’s 1938 design for the Sierra Theatre was not carried out. The theater as opened in 1946 was designed by Vincent G. Raney. There are a couple of small photos from the time of the opening in Boxoffice of November 2, 1946.

Ron Pierce
Ron Pierce on November 6, 2018 at 12:15 am

Opening notice for August 6, 1946 is now with the photos.

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