Crest Theatre

1013 K Street,
Sacramento, CA 95814

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Crest Theatre

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Originally on this site was the Empress Theatre, designed by architect Lee DeCamp as a vaudeville theatre which opened in 1913. It was rebuilt as the Hippodrome Theatre, again used first for vaudeville, until movies were were intoduced in the late-1920’s.

After almost 20 years showing first run films and vaudeville shows, the interior of the Hippodrome Theatre was gutted in 1946 and the Crest Theatre was built inside the existing outer shell of the Hippodrome Theatre.

The Crest Theatre opened on October 6 1949 with Mario Lanza in “That Midnight Kiss”. In attendance from Hollywood, were the stars of the movie Kathryn Grayson and Mario Lanza. Government officials included Governor Earl Warren (later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), and Honorable Belle Coolidge, the first woman mayor of Sacramento. Searchlights filled the air as the theatre was properly christened. Seating was provided in the auditorium for 1,217 on a stadium plan, with a stepped section at the rear.

The Crest Theatre showed films exclusively until late-1979 when it was closed due to poor ticket sales, the decline of the K Street mall, television and the rise of the multiplex.

In 1986, the theatre was re-opened by a group of local residents and continued showing films. The grand reopening took place on November 18 1986, with the MGM musical “Singin' In the Rain” starring Donald O'Connor, who attended in person. Mr O'Connor was given a pair of scissors and, with a smile, snipped the celluloid ribbon across the front doors and the Crest Theatre was in business again. In 1995, the Crest Theatre completed a one million dollar restoration which returned the 975-seat theater back to its original Streamline Moderne look, featuring a fabulous gold-leaf interior. Two small auditoriums were created in the basement of the building.

Over the following years, the Crest Theatre has been host to many different types of shows and events. It continues to host a program of classic and recent films. Concerts with artistes such as Cab Calloway, B.B. King, Dave Brubeck and a variety of comedy shows such as Bernie Mac, Carrot Top, Sam Kinison and The Mommies. Community events include the popular Sacramento Symphony ‘Jeans and Beer’ and ‘Mocha and Mozart’ series. In addition, the Crest Theatre is frequently used for private events such as political fundraisers, receptions, movie screenings, conferences, employee orientations and weddings. The two small basement auditoriums were closed in March 2013, and films were no longer scheduled in the main auditorium.

Contributed by Cinema Treasures, Sid Garcia-Heberger, Robert Styger

Recent comments (view all 35 comments)

LouisRugani on August 7, 2009 at 4:48 pm

The CREST succeeded the HIPPODROME theater, whose marquee had fallen, killing a woman. Since then the CREST has been a beacon for Sacramentans looking for a movie or a concert since it opened on October 6, 1949 with a gala event and the showing of “That Midnight Kiss,” starring Kathryn Grayson and Mario Lanza. The stars were on hand.

On the site where the CREST now sits, 1013 K St., the EMPRESS Theater vaudeville house opened in 1912. Its name later was changed to the HIPPODROME, and it became a full-time movie house in 1927.

In 1946, the HIPPODROME marquee collapsed, injuring three people and killing Mrs. R. S. Potter of Alta, in Placer County. The theater janitor said the marquee fell in “just one big drop.” The theater owners decided to gut the structure to the walls and build the CREST inside. At the peak, Sacramento boasted 26 downtown theaters.

LouisRugani on September 18, 2009 at 6:17 pm

From BOXOFFICE, December 14, 1946:

Damage Claims of $176,344 Made After Marquee Falls

Sacramento, Calif. – Two suits for damages totaling $176,344 were filed in superior court as an aftermath of the collapse of the Hippodrome theater marquee last September 14. Damages of $100,500 were asked by the husband and parents of Mrs. Jessie Shirley Potter, 41, of Alta, who was crushed beneath the marquee. Suit for $75,844.50 was filed by Joseph Brady, 40, who said he suffered a skull fracture, broken collarbone, permanent brain injury and loss of hearing in one ear when he was hit by the falling marquee. Defendants in the actions are the Empress Theatre Co. of Sacramento, successor to the Hippodrome Theatre Co., Inc., West Coast Theatres Corp. of Northern California, Fox West Coast Theatres Corp., the Campbell Construction Co., the Physicians Building Corp. and several John Does.

Michael D. Jackson
Michael D. Jackson on September 24, 2009 at 9:13 pm

The Crest is having a big night October 16th (or thereabouts) for the showing off of new renovations and the anniversary of the opening by showing the first film shown there, “That Midnight Kiss” for the original opening night ticket price of 60 cents.

TLSLOEWS on April 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Interesting hisory of the fallen marquee.

Trolleyguy on July 20, 2010 at 8:16 am

The Crest is currently for sale.

View link

CSWalczak on August 23, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Ah, Don – I think you have your links mixed up somehow; the link you posted in the comment of of August 4, 2010 points to a postcard of the Grand theater in Grand Island, NB in the 1930s, and the link in your comment of August 5, 2010, is not a link to the Crest website, but to a postcard showing the Crest in the 1940s. The Crest’s website is listed correctly in the headnote, above.

CSWalczak on August 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I am sorry to have misunderstood your August 5 comment.

CSWalczak on November 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

The Crest is considering closing the additional screens that were created in a basement space in 1997. View article

JohnRice on March 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm

As mentioned in the post above, the closing of the two basement theatres attached to the Crest has apparently taken place in early March 2013. Even worse news for the independent/foreign/alternative film scene in Sacramento it has been announced by the Crest that the main auditorium will not be showing films 7 days a week any more. There are no films at all on the schedule for the last half of March and very little lined up for April. Looks like it will be mostly performing arts and dark days for the Crest for the foreseeable future! Not good news at all for downtown or us regional alternative to mainstream film fans. Now all we have left for that fare is the rather shabby Tower!

Mikeyisirish on November 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm

A few 2011 photos can be seen here and here, with a November 2013 photo here.

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