Rivoli Theatre

1941 San Pablo Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94702

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Showing 19 comments

walterk on February 10, 2018 at 12:16 am

Opening night ad and a photo that accompanied an article in the Berkeley Gazette added to the photo section

Ian on March 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Photo from March 2000 here, showing the exterior and stage house:–


GaryParks on April 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Last night I got to see a single pencil-on-vellum longitudinal section drawing of the Rivoli which has been owned by a friend of mine for nearly ten years, but I hadn’t seen it as it had been in storage. The drawing (from Jorgensen’s drafting table) shows the auditorium’s ornamental scheme exactly as one sees it today—that is, what survives. The drawing also shows that there was much cove lighting. I realize now that I didn’t pay much attention to the lobby in the drawing, but it was rather low. The box down in the lower right corner names the theatre as the “West Berkeley Theatre.” Clearly, this was the proposed name at the time of its design. Perhaps the name change to Rivoli was to save money on sign design and maintenance.

LBorg on February 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Lawrence Borg, my Uncle, built the Rivioli in 1925. and in 1926 he bacame owner of the Parkway Theatre,Berkeley. The Rivoli and Parkway were thus sold in 1931 to the Golden State Theatre & Realty Corp., San Francisco.

It is my dream to one day soon, be able to purchase one of his theatres back that is shut down and revive it, as they did in Napa with the Uptown Theatre .

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 22, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Wild looking theatre in 1986 picture.

gsmurph on September 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Must point out that the opening contribution by William Gabel mistakenly says “Rialto” rather than “Rivoli.”

amende on June 8, 2010 at 12:00 am

Now the site of a 99 Cents Only Store, this former theater is worth a visit to view the amazing painted ceilings, as well as pick up very inexpensive candy. I will have to post a photo at a later date.

gsmurph on June 20, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Good news to report—-the 99-Cent store that’s taken over the Rivoli has kept the interior “remains” that Smart N'Final had uncovered and Longs Drugs had retained.

pdossetti on April 7, 2008 at 12:32 am

A Souvenier Program dated October 31, 1931 for the grand opening of the Merced Theatre in Merced CA also lists the Rivoli as being part of Golden State Theatre Corporation’s chain. Ward Casady is listed as being the manager of the Rivoli Theatre.

GaryParks on March 25, 2008 at 5:07 pm

To answer a much earlier comment that perhaps something is left of the interior of the Dimond, Oakland: Unfortunately not. It was totally gutted. Nothing but steel trusses and the wooden underside of the roof are visible. Offices fill the stage house. I would imagine that the concrete proscenium opening is still there, but stripped and hidden. The Dimond was originally Egyptian in style, with a pylon gate-like facade, but was completely remodeled Moderne in the late 30s.

I don’t know about the Granada in Oakland, also long since converted to a store. According to Jack Tillmany and Jennifer Dowling’s book, “Theatres of Oakland,” the balcony structure is gone and most other interior features are either removed or hidden.

mlind on March 28, 2007 at 4:01 pm

The Long’s Drugstore that currently occupies the building is scheduled to be closed.

cinecityposters on April 10, 2006 at 1:32 pm

I just moved into this neighborhood at the 1st of the year and finally took a good look at the building when I went up yesterday to buy some cleaning supplies. I have a friend who went to this theater in the ‘50’s and plan to interview him. I myself grew up less than six blocks from from the theater but don’t recall ever going to it. I always went down/up town to Shattuck to go to the movies. I do recall going to the public library next door to the Rivoli and Bobo’s (home of the 19 cent burger) which I suspect was on the site of Everett and Jones BBQ.

There are nicely preserved deco friezes on the San Pablo Ave side of the building, which would have been the front of the theater. I noticed the Long’s marquee too and it appears to be relatively new. There appear to be apartments above the store close to the street. Inside at ceiling level you can definitely see the remains of the balcony. I wonder what else is up there?

The “front” of the drugstore comprises the screen area most of the seating area. The ceiling is breathtaking.

stefoscope on February 27, 2005 at 12:59 pm

I just visited this theatre building for the first time. Wow, what impressive ornamentation this place has. Anyone know for certain what style this is? It looks very baroque, with cherubs holding a shield above the proscenium, majestic dragons, and small faces all around. The balcony is still there, blocked off, and the ceiling paintings are quite detailed, even for a theatre. The area that was once the lobby doesn’t look anything like it, and there is no front entrance…just windows. There is a store sign, though, that looks like a marquee. The entrance to the store is on the side (auditorium). Does anyone know if the original lobby was gutted, or is it hiding under the false ceiling, and walls? Also, does anyone know exactly when this theatre closed? The building exterior looks to be in remarkably good condition, and the (former) auditorium is lovely, to say the least.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 13, 2004 at 5:46 pm

The Rivoli Theatre opened in 1926

gsmurph on December 9, 2003 at 12:59 pm

Longs Drugs has just opened its store at the former Rivoli, and has indeed retained the theater remains. Much credit to them for doing so!

GaryParks on October 28, 2003 at 4:46 pm

The Rivoli’s auditorium was virtually identical to that of the Irving, on Irving St. in San Francisco (demolished).

gsmurph on October 28, 2003 at 4:01 pm

When Smart N' Final was preparing the interior of the building, they opened up the ceiling, found detailed remains of the theater auditorium within, and decided to leave them intact, making for quite a unique shopping experience (word has it that Longs Drugs will retain this feature). This development leads one to believe whether the Dimond or Granada theaters have similar auditorium remains just waiting to be uncovered someday…

unknown on October 24, 2003 at 11:31 am

This theater is now the site of a Longs Drugs store. Closed as a theater in the 1950’s.