Castro Theatre

429 Castro Street,
San Francisco, CA 94114

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Castro Auditorium just before SFIFF screening of The Third Man on 28 April 2012

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Castro Theatre, situated at the corner of Castro Street and Market Street, is one of San Francisco’s most recognizable landmarks. This magnificent neighborhood theatre is decorated in the Spanish Renaissance style; with a Moorish Tent ceiling, Oriental Zodiac emblems, and Art Deco touches throughout. It was built by the Nasser Brothers and became the flagship theatre of their small circuit of neighborhood theatres. It was the first theatre to be designed by architect Timothy L. Pflueger.

Opened June 22, 1922 with Wallace Reid in “Across the Continent”. Waldemar Lind and the New Castro Orchestra and Carmichael at the Robert Morton pipe organ accompanied the movie. In 1937 a small fire damaged the auditorium, and Timothy L. Pflueger was brought back to redesign some damaged sections and design a new Art Deco style chandelier in the center of the auditorium celing. In 1950 the organ was replaced by a Conn organ, which, in around 1980 was replaced by a larger 3 manual 16 ranks Wurlitzer organ, the console of which was originally installed in 1925 in the the State (now Palms) Theatre, Detroit, MI. In recent years the Castro Theatre has hosted several premiers including in 1984 “The Times of Harvey Milk”, in 1985 the world premiere of “Buddies”, and in 2008 the world premiere of “Milk” which also featured the theatre in the movie. The Wurlitzer organ was removed from the theatre at the end of September 2015 and will be replaced by a 7 manual pipe/digital organ.

The theatre is still going strong in the country’s best known gay neighborhood. Playing films from across the spectrum of independent film, the Castro Theatre is one of the last picture palaces left in the San Francisco area.

In 1976 the Castro Theatre was designated San Francisco city landmark #100.

Contributed by Tom Rielly, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 139 comments)

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 1, 2015 at 10:07 pm

1960’s photo added, credit The LIFE Images Collection / Getty Mickey Pfleger.

davepring
davepring on August 20, 2015 at 2:52 am

This is one of my favourite San Francisco theatres and will hopefully remain showing film for many more years as my other favourites The Coronet and Metro are no longer with us.

robboehm
robboehm on October 11, 2015 at 10:05 am

So true hdtv 267. The new multiplexes come and go with a shelf life usually of 18 years. Easy to tear down and build anew than modify or upgrade. Plus it’s all leased property.

kpdennis
kpdennis on October 11, 2015 at 9:54 pm

We were fortunate to catch a Sunday matinee of the recent Vertigo 70mm screening while vacationing in San Francisco. The pre-movie pipe organ concert fully contributed to the “event” vibes that accompany a movie at the Castro.

stevenj
stevenj on November 8, 2015 at 10:13 pm

I’ve added 4 new photos – 3 exteriors showing the wider sidewalks and tile work in front of the theater and a long shot taken from an apartment balcony on Twin Peaks showing the bulk of the theater from above.

stevenj
stevenj on September 5, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Just picked up a schedule a few days ago – Lawrence of Arabia will be shown in 70mm Oct 1 and 2, Vertigo in 70mm Oct 14, 15, 16. Would love to see the Transparent event but will be out of town that week. Most of the cast will be in attendance. They are showing the first 2 episodes of season 3 as the “premier”. There is also a showing of a restored print of Multiple Maniacs with Divine Sept 16 (schedule says a print has been unavailable for decades).

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on September 17, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Mid `60’s photo added via the opensfhistory.org website.

stevenj
stevenj on July 2, 2017 at 10:12 am

I bookmarked this from SF.Curbed.com and meant to post it a couple of weeks ago on the 95th anniversary of the theatre’s opening. Alex Bevk’s great article on the history of the Castro and it’s evolution into the 21st century also has some photos throughout the years.

stevenj
stevenj on September 5, 2017 at 11:00 am

The new 70mm print of Lawrence of Arabia played in a roadshow presentation over the 4 day holiday weekend starting last Friday evening. As the overture and entre act music played the house lighting dimmed gradually until only the curtains were half lit before finally going dark when the film started. Showmanship lives here! Whoever is up in the booth needs to be thanked not only for this weekend’s performances but for all films that play here. The print was great – crystal clear and vibrant.

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