Hardy's Theatre

944 Van Ness Street,
Fresno, CA 93721

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Mexico Theatre exterior

The Liberty Theatre is the oldest theatre in Fresno, and was built in 1917, opening on on November 27, 1917 with “When a Man Sees Red”. Designed in Second Empire Revival style by local architects W.D. Coates and H.B. Traver, responsible for Fresno and other California landmarks. It was renamed Hardy’s Theatre from June 24, 1931.

The 1950’s marquee of the theatre, whose exterior is remarkably well preserved, shows a later name, Hardy’s Theatre, while a large vertical sign displays the name MEXICO (Since the summer of 2005 this sign has been removed). The theatre was still open in 1981.

Fresno for a town its size has so many classic theatres that one could spend a half a day looking at them. Some others are Warnor’s Theatre, the Wilson Theatre, the Crest Theatre, the Tower Theatre and the Azteca Theatre.

In 2001 the city of Fresno began plans for a massive downtown revitalization but it is unknown what role the Liberty Theatre, which is on the Local Register of Historic Resources, will play. It had been in use as a Spanish Evangelical Church prior to 2005.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

tspauld on February 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

After considerable delay, during some of which they showed movies at the White Theatre under the name Liberty Theatre Photo Plays at the White, the Liberty Theatre opened on November 27, 1917 with When a Man Sees Red.

When it reopened on June 24, 1931, the photo in the Bee shows the marquee as “Hardy’s Fresno Theatre,” with “Hardy’s” and “Theatre” in small print at the top and bottom horizontally, and “Fresno” in larger letters vertically.

bryan868 on September 29, 2011 at 1:58 am

KFSR 90.7 held an event, “The Fresno Grand Opry,” in May 2011 at the Liberty Theater (Hardy’s). They asked us to do a video tour of the balcony area since it would be closed to guests. Here’s our video if you’re interested in seeing what this amazing theater looks like inside!


Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm

A few 2011 photos can be seen here and here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 4, 2013 at 5:48 pm

The partner of architect William D. Coates was Harrison B. Traver. Both studied in Philadelphia with the Beaux-Arts trained classicist Paul Cret around 1906-1907. They formed a partnership in San Francisco in 1911, and moved their office to Fresno in 1914. When the partnership was dissolved in 1925, Traver moved to Los Angeles and Coates continued to practice in Fresno. As far as I’ve been able to determine, the Liberty was the only theater they designed during their partnership.

dansdriveintheater on December 3, 2018 at 12:56 pm

was still open in 1981


please update!

terrywade on October 22, 2019 at 10:44 pm

Now a music studio Oct 2019. I hope some one saved the old classic theatre neon marquee sign that said Hardy’s?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 23, 2019 at 9:55 pm

This house should be listed as Hardy’s Theatre, since it was called the Liberty only from 1917 to 1931.

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