California Theatre

345 South First Street,
San Jose, CA 95131

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

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.

terrywade on September 17, 2011 at 6:33 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.

DonLewis on August 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm

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

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 27, 2009 at 11:30 am

The year given for this photo is 1942.

kpdennis on April 25, 2009 at 1:39 pm

The California as it appeared in 1997:
View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm

This is another photo of the California Theater.

spectrum on February 2, 2009 at 4:12 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

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 22, 2008 at 6:46 pm

That was during the depression so it doesn’t surprise me very much.

kencmcintyre on November 22, 2008 at 6:44 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.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 4, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Here is a nice recent photo.

philbertgray on October 21, 2007 at 9:19 am

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.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 19, 2007 at 5:25 pm

And here is a photo from 2007.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 10, 2007 at 7:24 am

This is a photo of the California Theater from 2004.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 1, 2007 at 10:08 am

Here is a ticket dated March 15, 1964 to see the Beatles on a closed circuit telecast at the Fox Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 8, 2006 at 4:10 am

This is a recent night photo of the California Theater marquee.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 5, 2006 at 6:25 am

Here is a recent interior view of the California Theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 30, 2006 at 3:50 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.

GaryParks on October 22, 2005 at 11:33 am

The photo displayed via the comment immediately above shows the vertical sign dating from 1957,as well as the marquee installed then as well. The vertical was removed in 1988 by the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, who also paid for the restoration of the 1957 marquee, which was used to promote Downtown events (and occasional limited-use events in the theatre itself such as tours and lobby receptions) until its removal during the theatre’s restoration beginning in 2001. In the photo, the vertical is stained with soot from the 1970s fire which destroyed the Mission Hotel next door.

kencmcintyre on October 21, 2005 at 5:14 pm

From the UC Davis Collection:

View link

gcurrie on September 29, 2005 at 12:22 pm

How do I reserve the Theatre for an event

STELLARB on March 4, 2005 at 12:55 pm

There’s a Harold Lloyd double feature showing tonite only @ 7:00

KarenK on January 4, 2005 at 1:35 am

How do I find out about the schedule for upcoming movie nights?