Golden State Theatre celebrates a week of foreign film double features

posted by philbertgray on November 26, 2007 at 10:40 am

MONTEREY, CA — The Golden State Theatre opened in 1926. At the time the ornate Moorish themed 1600 seat theatre was the biggest between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It featured modern miracles that were cutting-edge for 1926: hidden lighting that imitated a colorful sunset; an electric seat annunciator system that helped the uniformed ushers seat patrons quickly and efficiently; an emergency generator; an electric central vacuum; and an internal/external telephone system. Plush carpet led the way past dramatically oversized furniture in the Grand Lobby. Reaching the inner lobby, you were torn between visiting the elegant ladies' lounge or men’s smoker, (passing the “crying windows” installed for the viewing convenience of those with small children,) or proceeding directly to the velvet portieres guarded by the ubiquitous ushers.

As theatre attendance started to drop in the 1950s the theatre suffered the ravages affecting many theatres. The entire theatre was painted two shades of gray which obliterated its ornamentation and intricate painting scheme. In 1972 it was further altered by the addition of two additional screens in the balcony and extensive “draping” of the interior.

In a town the size of Monterey, population approx. 30,000, it would seem impossible this theatre would ever rise from the modernization forced on the once grand cinema, but with the diligence of a group of volunteers and a private investor named Warren Dewey the theatre was completely restored to its original opulence. The triplexing and draping was removed, the intricate details of the auditorium and lobby were returned to their original painting scheme. The restored theatre reopened in 2005.

Even more remarkable than the restoration was the theatre’s commitment to honor the restoration by continuing as a movie theatre when not in use as a live performance venue. The theatre continues to honor that commitment with double bill presentations, reasonable prices and NO commercials.

Pictures of the transformation, along with the weekly schedule can be seen at the
Golden State Theatre Website

The theatre will be holding a film festival through December highlighting foreign films. For those in the bay area peninsula interested in seeing what can be done with private funding and dedication this is the perfect opportunity. A schedule of the film festival is also posted at the above web site.

An article on the foreign film festival can be found at in the Monterey Herald

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