Stanford Theatre

221 University Avenue,
Palo Alto, CA 94301

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Showing 1 - 25 of 48 comments

stevenj on June 27, 2023 at 11:00 am

The Stanford Theater reopens July 1 with a Best of Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock Festival.

Info Here

stevenj on December 18, 2022 at 8:13 pm

Reopening was in July but shuttering again for upgrades to heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Reopening in early 2023.


rivest266 on July 2, 2022 at 2:02 pm

Closed as a full-time cinema in 1976. Reopening date unknown.

Trolleyguy on July 2, 2022 at 9:48 am

The Stanford has been closed due to the Pandemic. It is now scheduled to re-open on July 9. Updated website link: website

AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 8:37 pm

It is wonderful that this theatre is open, showing movies, and also has a theatre organ installed and playing, although I must agree with Mr. Jensen that 20 ranks is plenty large enough (especially for a Wurlitzer), and it doesn’t seem right to take another additional organ and add it to this one, although this sort of thing has happened countless times over the years.

Couldn’t the buyer of opus 274 have found a good home for it, the way it is/was?

Regardless, the “Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ”, pg. 628, notes that the Fox Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, California, had a three manual, 10 rank Leathurby-Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1925. The blower serial # for this organ is 16848, and the blower was 5 horsepower, putting out 10" of wind.

Does anybody know what happened to this organ and where it (or its parts) are today?

Mr. Bob Loesch, of Northern CA, noted on his website (no longer up) that he started out learning to play the theatre organ on a 3-manual 10-rank Smith organ, and provided a photo of the organ’s console on his website. Could this be the same instrument?

Smith appears to have built relatively few three-manual organs (at least seven of them, compared with dozens of two-manual organs), could this be the same one?

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on May 15, 2013 at 11:11 am

The Mighty WurliTizer Theater Pipe Organ in the Stanford, Opus 1825, a 4/20 (manual/ranks, keyboards/sets of pipes). It was originaly shipped to the Loews Theater in Syracuse, New York on January 13, 1928. In 1964 it was sold to a private owner in Glendale, California and in 1965 it was sold to another private owner in San Lorenzo, California. In 1995 it was sold to the Stanford and it is played all the time. Does it now have more ranks?

WurliTizer Church Pipe Organ Opus 274 Shipped to the San Francisco WurliTzer Store on January 16, 1920 and then on to the 1st Baptist Church in Martinez, California was also been sold to the Stanford several years ago, much to the chagrin of a former 1st Babist Church organist. He believes “they bought it for augmenting the installation there”.

There was an organ in the theater when it opened and it was removed. Anyone know anything about that organ or what happened to it?


Dramatrauma on May 10, 2013 at 7:57 am

Heres a few photos of the interior, bits and pieces from the balcony.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm

A few 2011 photos can be seen here and here.

pedalmasher on January 28, 2012 at 5:20 am

If you have the time, please write me at . He was such an amazing person who everyone respected. I’m curious as to when he retired, when he passed away, etc. Did he stay in Palo Alto after retirement? Thanks. Sandy

Heatherwind on January 28, 2012 at 4:22 am

Thank you pedalmasher! That’s very kind of you to say. Sadly I only had the opportunity to meet him once before he passed away, but it was a day I’ll never forget. I greatly appreciate your taking the time to respond! :)

pedalmasher on January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Heatherwind, I served with your grandfather, Capt. Guy Wathen on the PAPD back in the 60s – he was an amazing, one-of-a-kind man!

Nobody on September 29, 2010 at 12:03 am

[Does anyone know how to contact the Stanford Theatre Foundation, or maybe the webmaster of the Stanford Theatre website? No info online, that I can find. I’d like to propose to them that they link their site to my blog…or that I manage a blog for them about their theatre and classic film in general….]

The best way (in fact, the only way I know of) to get in touch would be to write (yes, snail mail) David Packard c/o the Stanford Theatre:

221 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301-1712

I ’m not sure what the chances are of your proposal being adopted, but you can ask.

I can certainly understand your desire to have them link to your blog. The kicker with such an arrangement is that it often implies affiliation, (even if you tell people your site is “just a fan site”) as people often can’t/won’t read disclaimers.

Anyhow, my last name isn’t “Packard,” so you’ll have to write him and see what he thinks. :)

laurasteuer on September 28, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Does anyone know how to contact the Stanford Theatre Foundation, or maybe the webmaster of the Stanford Theatre website? No info online, that I can find. I’d like to propose to them that they link their site to my blog…or that I manage a blog for them about their theatre and classic film in general….

Check out the beautiful movie photos at Nicks Classic Theatre blog.

If you’re in Palo Alto, check out my own blog

  • Laura
laurasteuer on September 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Hi everyone – glad to find this resource. I am passionate about old movies and rarely bother to go to the regular ‘modern’ movie complexes, much preferring almost anything they show at the Stanford Theatre. I started a blog to focus on old movies (and with a goal to get more folks to the Stanford) – check it out at

Would love your posts, feedback about the blog, comments on old movies, etc. Has anyone seen “War and Peace” there yet?
– Laura in Palo Alto

Heatherwind on June 22, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I agree “Bugeye” – it was really interesting reading about the robbery hoax as well, as then-Police Captain Guy O. Wathen was my grandfather too. I’ve heard mostly second-hand accounts of much of his life, so this was a bit of a thrill to see an “on duty” account of him. :)

darquil on April 25, 2010 at 1:34 am

I’ve posted information and photos from a recent visit here.

Nobody on February 8, 2010 at 1:00 am

[i wonder what film is being projected here? C. Aubrey Smith is actor
at left, Jerome Cowan at right:]

I believe (but am not 100% positive) that the film being shown is East Side of Heaven (1939).

bruceanthony on September 20, 2009 at 1:35 am

The Stanford by far if the finest theatre in the Nation to watch classic film. I wish every City was had a theatre such as the Stanford. My favorite theatre chain of all time was Fox West Coast which ran the Stanford for many years.brucec

William on April 6, 2009 at 1:16 pm

A Nitrate film fire Thursday night 10 minutes into the film “Cover Girl” at the Stanford Theatre, forcing evacuation and temporary closure of the theatre.

View link

cyndim on October 27, 2008 at 1:57 pm

I am the manager of the Stanford Theatre Foundation; we run the Stanford Theatre. I would like to contact John Tarentino. He mentioned in a post above that his mother used to manage the Stanford in the 1970s, and they have some materials that we might be interested in. We would be VERY interested in the materials he mentions. I can be reached by e-mail at

rkales on June 19, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Lucile Packard spelled her first name with only one “L”

In 1987, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation purchased the theatre (located in downtown Palo Alto, California) to preserve the historic building and provide a proper setting for exhibiting films from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

bugeyed49er on October 7, 2007 at 11:23 pm

Interesting reading on the robbery hoax (see above). The police captain was my grandfather, Guy O. Wathen.

kencmcintyre on September 8, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Here is a November 1965 ad from the San Mateo Times: