The Studio Theater on South First

Built in 1950 by Richard Borg and designed by Alexander Cantin, this theater was one of many theaters in San Jose built in the Streamline Moderne style. This is a late Art deco movement that is easily distinguished by large smooth stucco walls, horizontal lines and curved edges.

The Studio’s run as a theater followed a story common in San Jose. A thriving theater when it was built, it showed only adults films by 1973. This was followed by a run of showing Spanish language movies, then bargain-priced movies until the end of the nineties when it was converted into a series of nightclubs.

Today, the interior has been stripped and the space converted into a climbing studio. The exterior is preserved in it’s original form. I sketched it at dusk and as the neon turned on (almost perfectly, just the ‘D” in STUDIO wasn’t working), and I remembered that this sign was the latest technology in it’s time, designed and built by Cantin and Cantin, the father-son team who built many theaters in the area.


396 S. First Street

1 Comment The Studio Theater on South First

  1. Nancy Waldron February 28, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Love this blog and your sketch. Nice use of color showing the smooth architecture.


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