California Theatre

351 Railroad Avenue,
Pittsburg, CA 94565

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 20 comments

markrpope on March 1, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Work on the theater organ restoration is proceeding well but they do need additional funds. IF YOU’RE INTERESTED For more information, call Tom LaFleur at Pacific Community Services Inc. at 925-439-1056 or visit If you are interested in making a financial donation, make checks payable to PCSI with a notation for the Organ Project and mail to: Pacific Community Services Inc., 329 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg, CA 94565.

AndrewBarrett on October 1, 2014 at 5:26 pm

UPDATE: I have found out what happened to the California Theatre’s original Smith theatre pipe organ. This information is courtesy of the excellent Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society (PSTOS) website. In my opinion, ALL chapters of the American Theatre Organ Society should have a website that is so detailed and well-laid-out! Anyway, here’s the page on the organ, with photos:

And, here’s the info from that page: “According to Jeff Fox, the organ was originally installed in the California Theatre, Pittsburgh California. The Robert Morton Company took the organ in on trade when they sold a new 3/10 Morton to the theatre. The organ sat in their [Robert-Morton’s] warehouse for several years until 1930-31 when it was sold to Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Bellingham [Washington]. Seattle organ firm Balcom & Provorse did the install at the church and Ed Ahern of Bellingham was organist for the dedication program.

Jeff Fox purchased the organ in 1985. All of the original percussions except chimes were missing so Jeff has added a Wurlitzer toy counter and xylophone. He also added a blower that once supplied the Seattle Blue Mouse Theatre Wurlitzer. The organ’s original blower [Spencer blower #15874, according to Mr. Junchen’s book] still supplies air for the 2/12 E.M. Skinner organ now installed at the church."

also: “In 2003 the instrument was sold to Mark Steen of Spanaway, Washington. The Wurlitzer toy counter [not original to this organ] was purchased by Tom Blackwell of Seattle.”

I’m very glad to hear this organ (mostly) still exists, is in a good home and has been well-loved for most of its life. I hope it will continue to sing on into the future, whether in a home or in a theatre.

AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 7:37 pm

What a BEAUTIFUL theatre! Congratulations on re-opening and the ongoing restoration! I must pay this a visit when I’m in town.

“The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen lists a two manual, nine rank Smith organ as being installed in the California Theatre in Pittsburgh (sic!) California, in 1924. The blower serial number was/is 15874.

Judging from the comments on here, it appears that the Smith organ was replaced at some point by a three-manual, 10-rank Robert Morton organ which still exists and might be reinstalled in the theatre (IHope Ihope Ihope Ihope). I can hardly think of a better home for the organ, or a better organ for the theatre!

Robert-Morton organs generally get a lot more respect from theatre organ aficionados than Smith organs do, and they are high-quality instruments and deserve this respect.

Visiting organists should be satisfied with the Robert-Morton installation, if it is done well (and I hope it is done well, without ruining the instrument).

Anyway, I happen to personally really like Smith organs, and so am curious what became of the aforementioned earlier organ.

Was it a nine-rank or an 11-rank (as mentioned by wurl240 above)??? Where is it now? If broken up, where did the parts go, who has them?

Thanks a lot,

CaliforniaTheatre on August 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm

We are OPEN and ready for business!

Our website is:

Like us on Facebook and see our upcoming events:

For rental or other inquiries contact me directly at:


Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I lost track of this one. The California Theatre officially reopened on January 19, 2013, and is now slated to be the home of the Pittsburg Community Theatre. The closest thing I can find to an official web site for the theater itself is its Facebook page, which has a few photos. There is some stud lighting crowning the marquee, but the attraction board does not appear to be lit from within. I can’t find any events currently scheduled.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2013 at 9:17 am

Does the marquee light up at night? Is there a current website?

Carol_Schapker on June 26, 2013 at 9:14 am

An important element in the development of any communities' culture lies in the local theater. It is a pleasure to see not just a resto-mod but a full restoration performed on the crown jewel of downtown Pittsburg. This commitment to cultivating good times in the downtown area demonstrates our level of commitment to quality of life in Pittsburg, CA.

wurl240 on January 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

The Enea brothers and David Solario constructed the Pittsburg Palace Theatre about 1910. Demolished in the early 1970s. The California is now (2012) being refurbished for a May, 2012 re-opening. Due to California’s budget woes, the theatre restoration budget has been reduced to about $6 million. More than $20 million, I was told, was needed for a first rate job. The 3/10 Robert Morton sits in storage about one mile away. As of January, 2012, the Pittsburg city council and mayor have pushed to have the organ reinstalled. It had been threatened by a HVAC plan that wanted the air handling system placed (you guessed it..!)in the organ chambers. Preservation advocate Tom LaFleur has pushed for the organ installation and costs should be largely covered thru private donations.BTW—a nephew of the Enea brothers (theatre owners) played the original Smith 2/11 in the Twenties and later did intermissions in the Thirties on the Morton.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 15, 2011 at 3:30 am

There is now a web site for the California Theatre. Not all of its internal links work, but the photo and restoration links do.

The announcement in the October, 1918, issue of The Architect and Engineer that architect A. W. Cornelius had been engaged to design a new theater at Pittsburg for the Enea Brothers noted that the Eneas were already operating a theater in Pittsburg called the Palace.

The only other place on the Internet that I’ve found the Palace mentioned is this page at Silent Era. Does anyone have any additional information about it?

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 14, 2010 at 8:31 am

Click here to read an article about plans to restore the Beaux-Arts style California Theater into a community performing arts center.

tomdelay on April 10, 2007 at 6:36 pm

Point of fact, the organ from the Cal Theatre Pittsburg has been purchased by a determined organ preservationist. This person has a proven track record for quality restoration work. It would be great if the original Morton organ could go back to the Cal someday—but that is a long way off.

Patsy on February 14, 2007 at 5:53 am

What happened that this theatre was allowed to just sit and be neglected? And what happened to the movie screen, projectors, seats, artwork? A b/w photo shows that the Califoria was completed stripped which is a crime. So when reading the words “extensive damage” that sets the tone and the very uphill battle the community is faced with today. What was the church plannning to do with the organ? When I read….“The organ is installed in a far less than desireable environment, but it remains largely intact” it made me wonder why they let it go to a “far less than desireable environment” condition!

Patsy on February 14, 2007 at 5:37 am

On the CT home page there is a story about the organ that once resided at the California. The organ is for sale and it certainly would be nice if that organ could find its way back to the California and be a major part of the completed restoration project.

kencmcintyre on May 25, 2006 at 4:47 pm

This April 2006 article discusses ongoing renovation:

cosmic on September 30, 2005 at 1:53 pm

Another view of The Enean Theatre and California Theatre in Pittsburg, California. Photos taken; July 1998.
Top photo; Enean Theatre, bottom photo; California Theatre.

View link

Antioch, Ca

tomdelay on September 29, 2005 at 2:42 pm

The 1921 Fox-California Theatre in Salinas was also designed by the same architect A. W. Cornelius. However, the Salinas theatre was redone by Fox in 1934 and given an art deco treatment. The facade remained largely the same, a narrower version of the Cal in Pittsburg. The large vertical sign was added about 1927 and it remains, not working.

The original facade remained largely intact until a second remodel in 1948 when the present facade was built over the original. Photos for the local newspaper clearly show the statues being covered over along with the arched window and four Corinthian columns. The top of the Salinas facade was brick and was chipped away. However, the rest remains under the 1948 skin presently visible from Main Street.

The Fox-Cal in Salinas is for sale and the City of Salinas has no interest in the building.

The Pittsburg California Theatre opened with a 2 manual Smith organ of 10 or so ranks. This was replaced by a fabulous, jazzy 3 manual 10 rank Robert Morton in 1929. This organ presently resides in the Church of the Crossroads in Castro Valley. The organ is installed in a far less than desireable environment, but it remains largely intact. The church is located on the hill above Freeway 580 at the east end of Higway 238.

cosmic on September 27, 2005 at 8:22 pm

Recent renovation of the California Theatre, if you want to call it that…
R.Soliz, Pittsburg, California

rroberts on December 23, 2004 at 1:25 pm

I was inside courtesy of the City. A mess now but will be spectacular when restored!

FrankieBoyCA on January 21, 2004 at 3:34 am

I am very interested in seeing the inside of this theatre. The entire downtown area has been beautifully kept, so the very good looking exterior only adds to my curiosity.