Rita Theatre

1596 Church Street,
San Francisco, CA 94131

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The Rita Theatre was a little neighborhood theatre on the northwest corner of 28th Street and Church Street.

It opened as the Searchlight Theatre on August 5, 1916, and changed names rapidly the next few years. It was variously known as the Empress Theatre (1918-1927), the Lux Theatre, the De Lux Theatre, the Isis Theatre, the Princess Theatre, the Church Theatre, and, finally the Rita Theatre (1945). That name seemed to stick, but in 1961, entrepreneur Ward Stoopes took it over and ran it for about four years as the Del Mar Theatre.

Never successful as a neighborhhod theatre, its only means of survival seemed to be as an outlet for “ethnic” films, i.e. foreign films WITHOUT English sub-titles, usually German or Russian. Its last days as a film theatre were in May 1965. It became a neighborhood church, painted a bright, bright blue, and known as the ‘Blue Church. It was demolished in October 2009. Condominiums and retail will be built on the site.

Contributed by Jack Tillmany

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

gsmurph
gsmurph on June 27, 2004 at 1:02 pm

Screens: Single Screen.

thomasgladysz
thomasgladysz on October 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm

I live just two blocks from this building. This article summarizes its history.

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