California Theatre

345 South First Street,
San Jose, CA 95131

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California Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1927, this 1,848 seat former movie palace closed in 1973 after over 50 years of showing films. After a recent restoration project by architectural firm ELS Architects, the California Theatre is now the permanent home of the Opera San Jose and seats 1,200.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 30, 2006 at 6:50 am

Interesting links:

California Theatre Notes and Architectural Fact Sheet, with photos, and a link to LOTS more photos at the bottom of the page.

ELS Architecture, the site of the firm that did the restoration. Click on “Portfolio” then “Entertainment/Arts” then “California Theatre.” Requires flash.

philbertgray
philbertgray on October 21, 2007 at 12:19 pm

The California Theatre will be showing classic films in December 2007. More info can be found at the Stanford Theatre site – Click on the California Theatre link. The only film listed so far is “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas eve. The link says a full schedule will be posted later.

Can hardly wait to see a movie in this grand old theatre.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 22, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Here is part of an LA Times story, dated 2/11/30:

SAN JOSE (Feb. 10)-Two bandits entered the California Theater here shortly before 1 o'clock today, held up the assistant business manager, Harold Flora, and escaped with the week-end’s receipts totaling several thousand dollars. It is believed that they concealed themselves overnight in the theater.

With Flora at the time of the hold-up was Helen Barr, cashier, and Charlotte McDonald, usher. All were commanded to lie face down on the floor. After taking the money the men continued to the rear exits, passing several ushers who thought they were electricians.

spectrum
spectrum on February 2, 2009 at 7:12 pm

The THSA has a large photo gallery of photos of theatres from their 2008 Conclave in the San Francisco region, at

Here are links to their photos of the California Theatre:

View link – Interior – lobby
View link – Lobby
View link – Lobby
View link – Auditorium seat
View link – Auditorium Detail
View link – Main Lobby
View link – Main Lobby
View link – Lobby window
View link – Main Lobby
View link – Auditorium Ceiling
View link – Proscenium
View link – Auditorium sidewalls
View link – Upper proscenium – sunburst
View link – Proscenium
View link – exterior
View link – vertical sign , marquee

kpdennis
kpdennis on April 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm

The California as it appeared in 1997:
View link

DonLewis
DonLewis on August 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm

From the 1940s a photo of the California Theatre in San Jose.

terrywade
terrywade on September 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Someone from the Fox California needs to do some tree trimming out side as the great big vertical neon California sign is blocked by tree limbs and blocked from one side of the street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Photos of the restored California Theatre can be seen on this page at the web site of ELS Architecture and Urban Design, the firm that handled the renovation project. The project included an entirely new stage tower and two new buildings to augment the theater’s production space and public areas. The web page has a plan of the ground floor showing the changes.

ELS also designed restoration projects for the Portland Theatre in Portland, Oregon, now Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall; The Fox Oakland Theatre; the restoration of the Grand Theatre at Tracy, California, as part of the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts; and the recent renovation of the former AMC Kabuki multiplex in San Francisco for Sundance Cinemas.

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