624 E. Alisal Street,
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This theatre bore an exterior very similar to that of the Loyola Theatre in Los Angeles. They did not share the same architect, and the Loyola was the more graceful of the two. The Alisal boasted an abundant use of neon. The auditorium had a covelit vaulted ceiling. Flanking the proscenium were matching plaster freestanding sculptures of striding lions, backed by sculpted foliage. The same style of ornaments were used when the Alex Theatre in Glendale was Skourasized, and are now on display in that theatre’s lobby). The seating was stadium style.
The Alisal was built to serve the repidly growing East Side of Salinas in April of 1947. It was a first class theatre built for a neighborhood which never amounted to first-class status, grow though it did. The theatre’s life was relatively short. The theatres Downtown on Main Street (Crystal, Fox California, El Rey, and Vogue) outlasted the neighborhood Alisal by a substantial margin, though only the Fox California is currently useable—and used occasionally—today, and the Crystal was demolished this year.
The Alisal later housed a carpet store, then later became a indoor model racecar track. Today, the building survives, shorn of its massive neon roof crest and marquee and with a flat sheet metal facade tacked over the original, undulating one. The sturdy concrete shape of the building still shouts “former theatre” to those who can recognize such things. Out front, a pink tinted sidewalk etched with a crosshatched pattern stretches the entire width of the building, and leads to a swirling terrazzo pavement with an imprint of the box office, mostly obscured by a row of modern aluminum-framed entrance doors.
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