California Theatre

351 Railroad Avenue,
Pittsburg, CA 94565

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CaliforniaTheatre on August 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm

We are OPEN and ready for business!

Our website is:

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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.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 6, 2007 at 6:19 am

Here is another article dated 4/3/2006.

“Theater could return to glory days: PITTSBURG: Council to vote tonight on contract for preservation work on once-grand California Theater.

Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, Calif.
Byline: Laurie Phillips

Since the California Theater closed more than half a century ago, the only people who have been inside the downtown Pittsburg landmark are vagrants and people repairing the roof and facade. Today, the theater could move a step closer to reopening its doors if the City Council votes to approve a contract with an architectural group for the preparation of exterior and seismic strengthening designs, plus plans and specifications related to the first phase of preservation work. The approximately $422,000 the group estimates it will need for the drawings and plans would come from $2.5 million budgeted by the city’s Redevelopment Agency for initial work on the theater, which closed in 1954 and has been in disrepair since at least 1991, when the roof was discovered to be leaking. Since the city bought the building in 1970, the facade was restored in 1993, the roof was sealed and an alarm was added last summer to keep out trespassers.

When the California opened in 1920, it was the grandest theater in Contra Costa County, said Pittsburg resident Tom LaFleur, who has studied its history and what would be needed for the venue to reopen. He attended one film there — a Western — when he was 6. But LaFleur said his attachment to the theater is not nostalgia, it’s the building’s aesthetics, historical value and community role it would play as a gathering place. He called theaters “secular churches.” He said he was encouraged that the city hired a firm to do the initial work but dismayed that the group estimated it will need 12 to 14 months to complete it. The first phase would include steps to make the front part of the building usable. That includes putting the marquee back on the building, renovating the lobby and offices, and adding an elevator and rest rooms accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The work would protect the auditorium, which is in poor condition and would be repaired later, City Manager Marc Grisham said. He called the action before the council a “very important first step.” “As Old Town evolves — and I think it will evolve very quickly — I think we will find opportunities to put the theater back in place,” he said.

In the meantime, Grisham said, city leaders, the Pittsburg school district and residents should focus their efforts on improving the theaters inside the Creative Arts building, a facility he called “just as good” as the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. This week, people in downtown Pittsburg considered what a reopened California Theater could mean for the area. “It would bring more business down here,” said Pittsburg native Danae Bonds. “All we have is the Creative Arts building, and that’s fine for plays and little high school things, but we need something else.” Roger Tumbaga of Pittsburg called the action before the council “a great idea,” saying it would start the process of improving the building’s safety and opening it for films and community events. “This is eventually going to be a destination point for the city,” he said".

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.