Clay Theatre

2261 Fillmore Street,
San Francisco, CA 94115

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Clay Theatre  San Francisco, CA  March 1996

The New Fillmore Theatre was built by the Naify Brothers and opened in 1910. In 1914 it was renamed Regent Theatre. In 1931 it was renamed Avalon Theatre. It was soon renamed Clay Theatre and on April 11, 1935 it was renamed Clay International Theatre screening foreign movies. By February 1941 it had resumed the Clay Theatre name once again. It was taken over by Landmark Theatres in 1991. The Clay Theatre closed on January 26, 2020 with the documentary “Honeyland”.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 37 comments)

Mikeyisirish
Mikeyisirish on August 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm

A few July 2012 photos can be seen here and here.

bobster1985
bobster1985 on May 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm

The Clay Theater is still operating. I walked by there today, May 4, 2015.

rivest266
rivest266 on July 31, 2018 at 11:24 am

Opened as Clay on April 10th, 1935. Small ad uploaded.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 17, 2020 at 4:19 pm

The staff at the Clay Theatre have been informed that the house will close on January 26. The landlord is rumored to have plans that might include demolishing the venerable theater.

davepring
davepring on January 18, 2020 at 3:32 am

And another fine city cinema bites the dust because of development greed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 18, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Jack Tillmany’s Theatres of San Francisco gives a somewhat different (and possibly more accurate) history of the Clay Theatre than we have at this time. It says that the house opened as the Regent Theatre in 1914, was renamed Avalon Theatre in 1931, and became the Clay International Theatre, an art house, on April 11, 1935.

However, it appears that the name Clay Theatre was adopted before the name Clay International. A May 6, 1935 article uploaded to this theater’s photo page by Mike Rivest says that “Herbert Rosener… has taken the Clay Theatre on Fillmore at Clay, changed its name to the Clay-International, and will use it as an exhibition place for outstanding films of European origin.”

I’ve been unable to discover the year the name Clay Theatre was first used, or the year when the addition “International” was dropped. An ad indicates that it had returned to being simply the Clay Theatre by February, 1941.

stevenj
stevenj on January 25, 2020 at 8:42 am

Tomorrow, Jan 26th is the last day for the Clay Theatre. From the SF Chronicle this morning:

Clay

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 15, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Hello From NYC-

it seems developers in S.F. don’t have anymore love for historic theater buildings than developers in NYC. the Clay is a small theater how can the lot be used for development?

also at least S.F. has something neither NYC or L.A. have.
2 movie theaters build before the advent of WW I. the Vogue
and the 4 Star.

stevenj
stevenj on February 16, 2020 at 10:53 am

If it is indeed demolished, probably housing. A non profit, the SF Theatre Foundation, which oversees the Vogue and Balboa, is injecting over $1million into the Opera Plaza and in a recent link mentioned on that theatre’s Cinema Treasures page mentions possibly trying to save the Clay also. From that link:

“Meanwhile, the foundation is in talks to save another neighborhood theater: the Clay Theater in Pacific Heights, which ceased operations this month. Jim Herbert said his group is hoping to “help restore and preserve this cultural treasure for the benefit of future generations.”

Add to that list of pre WW1 theaters still operating in SF the Roxie (1909 or 1912) on 16th St in the Mission District:

Roxie

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