Forest Theatre

13200 Central Avenue,
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

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This theatre served the small town of Boulder Creek, located in the redwood-forested northernmost portion of Santa Cruz County. The moderne-styled facade was very plain, but as best as can be determined from an old photo, had sections faced with vertical strips of redwood bark, for a rustic touch along with the moderne simplicity. The facade was topped by small step pyramid or ziggurat-like accent features.

The forward portion of the building was a two-storey block, faced mostly in wood.

Today, the building houses a Round Table Pizza, along with what appear to be several offices. A two-storey “old Western town” style porch and balcony structure has been added to the front. The redwood bark fascia has long since been replaced by office windows. The moderne stepped pyramid accents atop the facade still remain, as does the old entrance foyer open to the street, with windows where there were doubtlessly once poster cases. If one looks down the adjacent alley, the auditorium structure can still be seen.

Contributed by Gary Parks

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

GaryParks on August 16, 2007 at 12:14 am

Last year I bought a black and white postcard of this theatre from the 40s (judging by the cars out front). At the time, the theatre was called the Dolan. “DOLAN THEATRE” was written on the marquee in neon.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 16, 2007 at 5:19 am

Listed in the 1941 and 1943 editions of Film Daily Yearbook as the Forest Theatre, Boulder Creek, CA with a seating capacity of 150. It is listed as (Closed) in both editions.

terrywade on September 2, 2007 at 7:21 pm

The Burl Theare in Boulder Creek Ca still stands. At one time they put a gym on the top level. The same people I think owned a small Drive In also in Boulder Creek across from the Boulder Creek Country Club. Called the Starview or Starlite. One of the great things about this little Santa Cruz mountain theatre It was a fun to go during the summer in the 60’s. They ran 2 movies, had curtains and color lights on the side walls. I collected the monthly adds with small photos on what was playing for the whole month. Like a movie Calendar. To bad my dad tossed out all my collection of movie adds for this theatre and the Encina Drive In in Santa Cruz. CA when I was on vacation in Hawaii in the mid 60’s. I didn’t talk to him for 2 months. At least he did'nt get to my poster collection. If your in the Santa Cruz mountains go by and check out this nice little town Boulder Creek CA and check out what is left of the Burl Theatre. Look on the side of the quonset hut of the former Burl. I talked to a former manager in the 70’s she told me they closed it because the kids kept cutting the seats up. Bad kids on summer vacation! They sold the Drive In for a houses. Never put in Cinemascope at the Drive In as I think it went down mid 50’s? The Burl had a very nice size scope screen up till it closed. The only other theatre still open is a small 6 plex in Scotts Valley Ca. Or you can drive into Santa Cruz and check out the Delmar Theatre downtown. Regal also has a multiplex on the main st in Santa Cruz along with a small twin near the river. The old Encina Drive In is still open under a new name and has been twinned in Santa Cruz. I think the Burl can be brought back someday so the people of Boulder Creek have a movie place to go. Just keep the rough kids out! If they were that bad in the 60’s the new kids are worse now. Show family films and art movies at night. Make the kids come with the parents. It is a very safe town,I think in the 60’s you got the beach kids that liked to cause trouble.

GaryParks on October 15, 2009 at 11:41 pm

I am now inclined to believe that the Forest Theatre which was listed in the 1941 and 1943 Film Daily Yearbook editions with 150 seats has to be a different, earlier theatre than the Dolan/Burl. The Dolan is a Quonset-built structure, and therefore dates to around 1947 or so. The Quonset was developed for wartime use in 1941, and was utilized often for theatre construction after the war, its peak use seeming to be in 1947-48. Quonset theatres typically had a capacity of between 400 and 700 seats. 150 seats, as the Forest had, is far too small a capacity, let alone the fact that Quonsets hadn’t been put to civilian use in 1941 or ‘43.

theatrebuff333 on June 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm

In the late 50s and early 60s this was known as the BURL Theatre. Operated by Harold & Winnie Hilton who also operayted the Forest Swimming Pool. Their son Bobby served as the projectionist.

terrywade on August 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm

It’s time to bring back the Burl Theatre to Boulder Creek CA as a second run cinema. This will be Santa Cruz’s first second run theatre if ever opened as a movie place again. Many first run movies just play a short time as the college town nearby of Santa Cruz is under screened. Many art films don’t even play in town. When they converted the Burl they put in a second level floor for a gym long gone, so this will have to torn out to make one large theatre. Good news in the nearby city of Felton CA the Trout Farm Inn has reopened with a nice remodel to the pool and restaurant.

GaryParks on February 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Small architectural correction, as I stopped by the former Burl today: The exterior of the commercial block in front is, and always was, faced in wood, not stucco as I erroneously said in my description above.

garrufat on July 23, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Just an FYI about the Burl Theatre in Boulder Creek. I became the projectionist in late 1975 when it was the Showcase Theatre. After 6 months I ended up renting the building under my commercial business The Boulder Creek Theatre in the summer of 1976 – Gone With The Wind was our July 4th opening. Eventually I split the week with 35mm films on the 1926 Simplex carbon arc projectors (factoid to remember – sound came out in 1927 – these beasts had turntable drives for silent records, and optical sound track heads for sound on films – they were classic antiques) After creating the Santa Cruz Mountain Community Theatre non-profit effort to save the theatre we presented music shows on the weekends and showed feature movies during the week. This was about the time that Scotts Valley Cinema opened. I had to meet with SF cigar chomping film distributor’s to explain the split week thing. It had never been done before but those old guys respected Harold Hilton, the old guy I learned from. His parents bought the Dolan for him in the late ‘40s when he also had Forest Pool. He had a small pipe organ in his house overlooking Boulder Creek and highway 9 when he shared his life with me in 1976. The country club off 236 has a Hilton Dr(?) in his honor. More info soon if there’s interest. Greg Arrufat

ibray on July 14, 2015 at 4:21 pm

A little bit off topic but sure miss the Forest Pool, went there during summer visits down from San Francisco. Looks like they demolished it, Google Maps just shows dirt. Do the Hiltons who owned the Forest Theater still own the land that the pool stood on?

terrywade on October 9, 2017 at 11:47 am

Someone in Boulder Creek that has old 8x10 photos or of the outside or inside of the Burl Theatre or ad flyers needs to put them inside the radio station windows or pizza place now inside this former cinema building. Most young people have no idea this still open building with a second floor added was once the local movie theatre for Boulder Creek CA. It does say on the roof Burl Building. Thanks Terry

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