There are little neighborhood theaters and there are grand ones. San Jose’s California Theater always belonged in the latter category. It opened on April 16th, 1927 and at 1,122-seats, it has always been the largest and most luxurious theater in town.
Today the theater is surrounded by tall buildings that dwarf it, like this large glass and chrome ‘Luxury Tower’ that forms the backdrop to it.
The theater closed in 1973, but it was purchased by the Redevelopment Agency in 1985 with the intention of preserving it. The $75 million restoration included recreating the original marquee, which predated the theater and belonged to an earlier California Theatre (formerly known as DeLuxe).
The recreated sign was faithful to the original and is topped by poppies. These signature poppies in twinkling lightbulbs features on the signs of many cinemas run by West Coast Theatres. Only one original sign remains, at the theater in Dunsmuir, California.
Love theaters and their beautiful old signage? Here are links to all the San Jose theaters I’ve sketched:
- The Burbank Theater
- The Jose
- Mexico Theater
- The Studio
- Towne Theater
- Garden Theater
- The California Theater
If there’s a San Jose gem I’ve missed, let me know
345 S 1st St