Mexico Theater

The Mexico Theater in San Jose probably holds the record for the most confusing history of a local theater. It opened as the Mayfair  in 1949, changed names to be called the Esquire in 1962. In 1980 it had a name and marquee change: the name was changed to Mexico theater and it inherited it’s current sign from a theater in downtown San Jose. (If you’re not confused enough yet, that original Mexico Theater was previously called the Liberty Theater)

This first sketch is from several years ago, when I sketched the area around the Five Wounds Church. I’d heard then about the theater possibly being revived as a space for music performances.

So I went back to have a look. But this time, several years later, the theater was still locked up, and the signage was more derelict than before. Still grand, a lovely  example of a Moderne tower, but crumbling slowly. The spectacular blue of the sky that day only accentuated the sad state of the theater.
vintagetheatermexico_sm2 vintagetheatermexico_sm3


Like many neighborhood theaters, the Mexico had many incarnations, and not just as a theater. It served for a short time as a church. And there were proposals to turn it into a tropical fish store. But today it remains shut down and boarded up.

If you know of plans to restore the theater, or know more about the colorful history of this theater or stories I might not know, I’d love to hear about them.

1194 E. Santa Clara Street


4 Comments Mexico Theater

  1. Katelyn May 19, 2019 at 12:57 am

    I drove by here recently and wondered what the story was! Thank you for sharing. Love your rendering.

  2. Lucinda Gutierrez October 30, 2020 at 11:07 am

    Born and raised in east side San Jose. Many fond memories of the Mayfair/Esquire theater. Our parents used to drop us 4 kids off every Sunday and we would stay all day watching movies. Sometimes like 10 kids from our neighborhood would be there. West Side Story stands out, must have seen it 20 times also To Sir with Love. The Mayfair had a dance contest on the stage every Sunday. I remember my older sister up there dancing to The Peppermint Twist. Wonderful, innocent times…

    1. Suhita November 2, 2020 at 4:10 pm

      what fantastic memories!


Leave a Reply