Piedmont Theatre

4186 Piedmont Avenue,
Oakland, CA 94611

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jordanlage on August 3, 2015 at 1:05 am

Saw JAWS there twice in the summer of 1975. I was 12. It may have been the East Bay’s exclusive run of the movie at the time. Not sure where JAWS was playing in San Francisco at the time. 1st time I saw it was a matinee maybe the the 1st or second week of release. Loved it, of course. Not a lot of folks in the theater. I recall sitting in the balcony the 2nd time I saw it, an evening show, a packed house. The balcony was the smoking section at the time. My dad had decided to indulge and taken taken me, and went for a pee break before the film started. He told me to find a seat down front in the orchestra. I found a couple of free seats while he went to the bathroom, but upon sitting, I soon saw why the crowded theater had two choice free seats: some drunk bastard had just puked on the floor next to his seat, and was ranting incoherently. I hightailed it outta there and intercepted my old man coming back from the bathroom, imploring him to find us seats in the smoking section (the balcony). He couldn’t understand; he knew I hated the smell of cigarette smoke (he himself was a pipe smoker), but I was insistent, because I thought my father would have 86ed the whole excursion had he found out some drunk had puked in the theater (my dad was reluctant to take me to some dopey movie about a shark in the first place). I suffered through the viewing in a haze of cigarette smoke for my old man’s sake so we could enjoy the movie. We get home, he recounts the experience to his wife (my stepmother), with the conclusively derisive putdown, “And then at the end, the shark jumps out of the water ON TO THE BOAT! Can you believe it?!?!” He couldn’t even suspend his disbelief for that plot contrivance in order to enjoy the pleasure the movie would have brought him. I’ve since learned one can underestimate a driven animal at one’s peril.

AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 6:22 pm

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen, pg. 628, the Piedmont Theatre in Oakland had a Seeburg-Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1920. The book does not give the # of manuals or # of ranks for this organ.

The organ’s blower serial # was 1181, and it was a 2 horsepower blower delivering 10" of air pressure.

The book also claims that the theatre opened as the “Kadie Hilber Theatre”. I’m not sure what to make of that!

Does anybody know what happened to this organ?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm

The June, 1934, issue of The Architect & Engineer had this item about the remodeling of the Piedmont Theatre:

“Extensive alterations and additions are to be made to the Piedmont Theater, Oakland, from plans by A. A. Cantin, 557 Market Street, San Francisco. About $10,000 will be expended on the improvements, which will be in charge of A. J. Hopper.”

kencmcintyre on April 4, 2009 at 8:03 pm

There is a 1984 photo on this site:

Oakboy on November 19, 2004 at 1:45 am

Chuck, the streets of Piedmont are not in the city of Piedmont. That area is actually Oakland. Being an Oaklander, I just wanted to set you straight. Just like Rockridge, Montclare village and the Claremont hotel are actually in the city of Oakland.

gsmurph on May 30, 2004 at 8:20 am

The New Piedmont (its original name) opened on September 15, 1917; the opening feature was “Two Little Imps.” Status should be changed to “Open,” as the theater still operates today, even after various alterations.

gsmurph on November 20, 2003 at 3:40 am

The Piedmont is actually a 1934 remodeling of a 1917 theater. Originally single-screened, it fell victim to changing trends and was plexed in the mid-1980’s (one of the last single-screens, at least in the Bay Area, to do so).

ChuckVanBibber on October 23, 2003 at 9:24 pm

Hope this is of some benefit to all interested in this theatre. The info is taken from the Landmark Website.
3 Screens, Operated by Landmark Theatres since 1994. The historic Piedmont tTheatre is located in the quaint Piedmont neighborhood, five blocks from the World-famous Mountain View Cemetery. Constructed in the early 1920’s, the Piedmont is one of the Bar Area’s last standing movie palaces from the early 20th Century and features the finest in independent film, foreign language cinema and the occaisional Hollywood favorite. During the 1920’s, a pipe organ played before each show, with vocal accompaniment. This organ, while no longer active, can be seen in the Piedmont’s main auditorium.
Don’t forget to stroll the streets of Piedmont before or after the show where fine dinning and shopping opportunities abound. The famous Fenton’s Ice Cream Parlor is jest two blocks away.