Rex Theatre

1305 19th Street,
Bakersfield, CA 93301

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Rex Theatre

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Replacing an earlier 1913 built Rex Theatre, this Rex Theatre was opened September 16, 1929. It was closed on 20th July 1952 and received substantial damage in the Tehachapi earthquake in the early hours of the morning of July 21, 1952. It never reopened, and a parking garage now stands on the site.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

William on June 23, 2004 at 12:56 pm

During the 40’s the Rex Theatre was operated by Fox West Coast Theatres along with the nearby California, Fox, Kern and Nile Theatres.

JimSpohn on February 2, 2005 at 11:46 am

The Rex Theatre building was torn down in the 1950’s and was on the corner of 19th and L streets. The location is now a parking lot.

sawoodman on July 25, 2008 at 8:29 am

The Kern County Museum has an image of the Rex Theatre:$1249

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 8, 2010 at 4:03 am

The Rex might have been finished off by the 1952 Tehachapi earthquake. An item about the nearby Virginia Theatre in Boxoffice of January 31, 1953, said that the Virginia had reopened just before Christmas, but that the Rex was still surrounded by steel scaffolding while engineers continued to inspect it. Perhaps the damage to the Rex turned out to be too costly to repair.

Boxoffice of April 17, 1948, had said that Fox West Coast had renewed its long-term lease on the Rex and several other theaters. The length of the lease was not mentioned. I haven’t found the Rex mentioned in Boxoffice after the 1953 item.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm

The correct address for the Rex is 1305 19th Street. A huge parking garage now covers that whole block along 19th Street.

OCRon on January 9, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Here is the Timeline for the Rex Theatre. (See ads and news in photo section)
September 14, 1913: First Rex opened
October 17, 1929: new Rex opened
Architect: Charles H. Biggar
July 23, 1952: Closed
January 1953: Demolition begins

The Rex Theatre originally opened on September 14, 1913. On September 16, 1929, the Bakersfield Californian published a four-page section on the new Rex Theatre, which was built on the site of the old Rex Theatre. Charles H. Biggar was listed as the architect. “Modern Movie House Equipped for Talkies Replaces Old Building. It is of brick, with structural steel roof framing and concrete floor and basement, and is surfaced on the outside with stone-gray plaster. In architecture, the exterior is Spanish Romanesque, with the interior showing a more modernized treatment. Ornamental Iron balconies surmount the windows at the front, and the use of red tiling on the roof adds a colorful touch. The main auditorium of the theater has a seating capacity, of 800, which is supplemented by 50 additional lounge seats on the mezzanine floor.”

The Rex dropped out of listing after July 23, 1952 and in January and February of 1953 ads from the Cleveland Wrecking Co. (see ad) appeared in the Californian announcing its demolition, which included 200,000 good, used brick.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 10, 2015 at 12:22 am

The Tehachapi earthquake took place on July 21, 1952. It’s likely that in the confusion of the next few days the theater’s ads just didn’t get pulled from the newspaper. As I recall, the earthquake hit about four o'clock in the morning (it was powerful enough to wake me up where I lived in suburban Los Angeles, about a hundred miles from the epicenter), so the last show at the Rex must have been on the evening of July 20.

Charles H. Biggar was one of Bakersfield’s most noted architects. Around 1915 he was briefly in a partnership with Charles H. Kysor (who later changed his surname to Kyson), son of pioneer Los Angeles architect Ezra F. Kysor.

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