Regency I

1320 Van Ness Avenue,
San Francisco, CA 94109

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Regency I Theatre

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The Regency 1 opened on December 22, 1967, with “The Birds, the Bees and the Italians”. Built in 1911 as the Scottish Rite Temple, it had been remodelled into a theatre by Blumenfeld Enterprises, and reigned as one of San Francisco leading first run theatres for thirty years.

With lots of problems which made it less than user friendly (stairs up to the entrance could not be accommodated by the disabled; limited waiting room inside made it necessary for crowds to line up outside on Van Ness Avenue, despite inclement weather; a narrow proscenium meant top masking had to lowered to provide a proper wide screen ratio; a flat floor meant sight line problems for those sitting in back; and, to make matters worse, the manager and her daughter/assistant had a little too much attitude for their own good), blockbuster films meant turnaway audiences year in and year out, despite, rather than because of, the venue.

Maybe to a trekkie, martyrdom made seeing “Star Trek: the Motion Picture” all the more pleasurable, but by the mid-1990’s the Regency’s (and its manager’s days as Queen of Van Ness Avenue were definitely over as a movie theatre, and it closed forever on November 7, 1998.

Contributed by Jack Tillmany

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

BabyJaneHudson
BabyJaneHudson on November 14, 2004 at 3:07 pm

Saw many movies there as Ilived a couple of blocks away on Octavia. Never cared much for that theater as the seats were uncomfortable and you had to look over people’s heads to see the screen.

BLFT
BLFT on August 3, 2005 at 7:43 pm

Saw many great movies at the Regency, including “Fantasia” and “E.T.”. Was a great place to see movies, but sadly run out of business by the more modern Galaxy Theater and the AMC 1000 up the street.

George75
George75 on July 12, 2006 at 6:33 pm

I worked at the Regency 1 in the summer of 1991. Mrs. S., the old woman who managed the place from its opening, was the meanest human being I had ever met. She mocked and degraded her staff almost daily; was she the boss till the end? She must’ve been 75 by 1998! Would love to know what became of her as well as Anita and Ana (her two friendly assistants when I worked there; Mrs. S.’s daughter was not always her assistant).

George75
George75 on February 16, 2007 at 11:14 am

Pearl Stimmel (1922-2006) was the “manager with an attitude” at the Regency 1. I believe she retired in 1993. Her assistant Anita went home to North Dakota. I have no idea what became of Ana.

Aerick
Aerick on March 23, 2008 at 6:34 am

It was a beautiful theatre interior wise.. It was green and white as I remember. The walls were green with White moldings, and there were several chandeliers hanging from the ceiling in the main auditorium.

My first movie here was E.T. when I first moved to San Francisco in 1982. I so remember lining up on Van Ness and around the corner as the description above says. I miss that theatre.

Abodigital
Abodigital on June 29, 2008 at 11:56 am

I worked at the Regency 1 in summer ‘97 and Mrs Stimmel was still working there, at least part time during the day. I worked nights so didn’t actually work with her but she was always nice to me whenever we spoke and was a real character. I returned while on vacation in summer '98 and she was still there, recognised me and let me in for free to see a movie (The Truman Show). I have very fond memories of the theatre, sad to see it closed. Con Air, Face Off and GI Jane were running the summer I worked there. Winona Ryder came in one night with friends to see GI Jane!

ajtarantex
ajtarantex on September 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

Does Any one know what" in the building NOW?

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on September 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

It’s being used for live shows as well as banquets.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

Transformation of temple into cinema described in this 1968 trade article: Boxoffice

Swirlyewok
Swirlyewok on September 20, 2013 at 1:19 am

4 every1 on here 2 know, Mrs. Stimmel was my grandmother. She passed away this yr on January 25, 2013. She lived a great life, I loved all my memories @ that theater when she was manager. All the workers were always nice. I was very sad when she retired, but more sad when it closed down. & she definitely had an attitude. Lol. RIP GRANDMA. U’ll be missed but never 4gottin. :) ~Ur loving granddaughter Shirley Stimmel~

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