Fox California Theatre

242 E. Main Street,
Stockton, CA 95202

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

Although the Internet is full of web sites saying that the T & D Theatre was demolished in 1929, I’ve always found it hard to believe that it was. None of the web sites cite reliable period sources backing the claim, and I’ve found none myself. I’ve always suspected that Balch & Stanbery’s 1929 project was an extensive remodeling, possibly including some interior demolition if the balcony of the 1917 theater was carried on columns instead of a clear-span beam.

The T & D Theatre was designed by San Francisco theater architect A. W. Cornelius, and featured what the October 13, 1917, issue of The Moving Picture World called “…the classical Corinthian style….” Stylistically, Cornelius was a rather conservative architect, and the theater was probably looking quite old fashioned by 1929, but otherwise his work was quite advanced. The 1917 magazine noted the modern heating, ventilation and cooling system of the house, and made mention of the advanced lighting system.

While Fox West Coast was sometimes quite extravagant with its projects in the 1920s, I’ll remain skeptical of the claim that the T & D was completely leveled in 1929 until I’ve seen at least one reliable period source supporting it. Unless the footprint of the 1929 theater was larger than that of the 1917 house, about the only thing I can think of that would have induced Fox to raze a large, costly, twelve-year-old theater and replace it with one of slightly smaller capacity is if some fatal structural flaw had been discovered, and it seems unlikely that Cornelius would not have seen to it that the T & D was well built, with foundations suitable to Stockton’s damp, alluvial soil.