Stockton Theatres Over The Years

Theatres Yesterday and Today

Disclaimer! Informational page only, I do not sell, lease or manage Commercial Real Estate.

There were no less than eight theatres with the name "Stockton" in them. It all began in 1850 when the assembly room of the pioneer Stockton House at El Dorado and Channel was converted into a makeshift theatre for the entertainment of pioneer merchants and miners. The Stockton House Theatre lasted only three month, however the Historic Stockton Theatre was erected at Main and El Dorado three years later. Although frequently in disrepair, the Stockton played the best in theatre - Laura Keane, Modjeska, Lotta Crabtree, George Marion and James O'Neil. However the once :most handsomely decorated hall of amusement in California" was damaged beyond repair by a mysterious fire on Fourth of July eve, 1890

In 1907-1908 an East Market Street theatre opened as the Bell was briefly known as the Stockton but after being closed for several months re-opened as the Bell. During the summer of 1908 moving pictures were shown nightly at the old mineral baths, adding the Hot Mineral Baths theatre to the lore of Stockton's Theatre of yesterday. In 1913 the Stockton Picture Palace became the Stockton in 1914, replacing the piano with an orchestral organ in 1919, becoming the Strand in 1922 and folding in the mid-1920s.

The next Stockton Theatre at 19 S. El Dorado in 1925 was a typical "Skid Row" movie house that became rubble in the 1970s when the West End Redevelopment Project became a reality. The final Stockton Theatre opened in 1945 at 1825 Pacific Avenue as a second-run house, became a complex of four mini-theatres known as Stockton Royal Theatres and closed today. The Stockton Civic Theatre, founded in 1950 brings the total to eight. 

Today's Open Theatres

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Fox California (Bob Hope theatre)Bob Hope Theatre - 242 E. Main Street - The former Fox California Theatre
City Center & IMAX City Center & IMAXCity Center & IMAX 16 OPEN - LARGE FORMAT - 222 N. Eldorado - December 2003- 3406 seats. Owners: 2003 Singature Theatres 2004 Regal Cinemas. An IMAX screen was installed in 2008.
Holiday Cinema 8 - 6262 N. West LaneHoliday Cinema 8 - 6262 N. West Lane -

Closed and Bygone Theatres

99 Drive In Theatre99 East Drive In Theatre - 3999 N. Wilson Way - opened in 1949 as the 99-Drive-in Theatre.  In 1955, the 99 East Drive-In was operated by United California Theatres out of San Francisco. - Some called them passion playgrounds. Drive-in movie theatres contributed to the death of downtown theatres. That's the 99 Speedway on the right. Demolished
Acme - 30 N. El Dorado in 1910 was an old store converted into a movie house with a pianist. Today, the In-Shape-City building
Empire Theatre - Main StreetAliskey - 21 N. Sutter - Opened on June 10, 1907 (former Empire and Unique, became the Forrest and in 1909, the Garrick)
500 East Main Street</b> - Avon theatre - 1890s Avon Theatre - 500 East Main Street - 1890s - The Avon was closed in 1902 and the building converted into a department store. By 1935, J.C. Penny until 1950 - It was originally known as the Avon Theater. It once has a seating capacity of 1200 and reportedly excellent acoustics. The seats were arranged in an amphitheater format. The entrance. was located on California Street and the theater occupied the second and third floors, while businesses were housed on the first floor. Historic photos reveal a Classical Revival building, with a row of small pediments on the cornice line, arched hooded windows,. and pilasters. A small temple' like structure was located at the corner above the projecting cornice. In the 1890s, with the opening of other local theaters, the Avon's popularity declined. The building still stands today, although heavily remodeled. In 1884, fire destroyed every building in the block except the Avon.
Bell Theatre / In 1905, it became the Majestic, by 1911, the Hippodrome, then the Columbia, then The Kirby and finally The kenyon theatre - 326 E. East Market Street. It later became a barber shop - Today a parking garage
Bijou Theatre - 157 W. Adams Street - The Bijou Theatre was opened as an independently operated adult cinema in 1974. It was taken over by the Pussycat Theatres chain in 1982, and they operated it until January 1993. The Pussycat theatre chain owned this theatre, which shown adult films. The theatre is now a bar named the Valley Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Ron Chapman
Capri TheatreCapri Theater - 2293 East Main Street - The East Theater opened in December of 1948. The name was changed to the Capri Theater in the late-1950ís. - Closed - Today a Church
Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium501-525 N. Center St  - Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium - Built 1924-1925. A classic revival style building designed by local architects Glenn Allen, Ivan C. Satterlee and W. J. Wright features sculpted panels over the seven front entrances. A floor of California marble and an art glass skylight in the center of the flat dome. Stocktonians conducted bond drives to fund construction of the memorial auditorium to honor those who gave their lives while serving in the armed forces in World War I.
Ritz TheatreColonial Theatre - 426 East Main was closed in 1922 for in 15 years before being reincarnated as The Ritz in 1937. Today the former American Savings block
Cornethian BuildingThe Corinthian  was Stockton's second theatre - Charles Weber and Richard Hammond constructed this building in 1850 on the north shore between Center and El Dorado Streets. The building served as the town meeting hall, theatre and restaurant.
Crest Drive-In CLOSED - 1975-? 1980 - Later renamed Valley 99 Drive-In - Demolished
El Placer - El Dorado and Weber
Esquire TheatreEsquire Theatre Number Two - 323 E. Main Street - The Esquire Theatre was opened in December 1946. It was operated by Blumenfeld Theatres chain, and was closed in 1954. the building was demolished in 1972.  The Esquire that ran X-rated movies in the 1960s-1970s was a different theater, and the former Esquire was long gone by then. The State Theatre  was renamed the Esquire after the original Esquire was closed in 1954, at which time it was converted into Penny's department store
Esquire TheatreEsquire Theatre  - 546 E Main St - On new year's eve, 1949, the Esquire showed milling crowds on the steps of Stockton's City Hall, the old county Courthouse and it's antiquated courtrooms, the old Hotel Stockton and hundreds of fellow Stocktonians. it was the premier of the Huey Long based "All the Kings Men", filmed here and featuring Broderick Crawford, John Ireland and Jeanne Dru. By 1954 the lease had expired, so the esquire II moved to the former State theatre location at 323 E. Main and the old Esquire became a a J.C. Penny department store
Festival Fourplex - 6436 Pacific - Where Chuck-e-Cheese is located now. November 13,1974-2004 - Owners: 1990 Mann - 2001 Signature Theatres - Seating: 500, 460, 250, 250 Total 1,460 - Demolished - Photo courtesy of Floyd Perry Jr.
Fox California Theatre - 242 E. Main Street - Originally on this site was the T&D Theatre, built in 1917. It was re-named California Theatre in 1923, and was closed and demolished in 1929. The Fox California Theatre was built in 1930 by the Fox West Coast Theatre circuit. The Fox Theatre was renamed the Bob Hope Theatre for the late legendary entertainer Bob Hope in 2004. -

 232 E. Main  232 E. Main Warbonds Fox Theatre 

Empire Theatre - Main StreetGarrick Theatre, in 1915, then the Strand, then the Hippodrome - 21 S. Sutter
Grand Theatre - 114 E. Main
Hammer Lane Drive In / West Lane Drive In - This drive-in had space for 720 cars. It has been replaced by a Costco.
21 S. Sutter St.Hippodrome - Vaudeville - 21 S. Sutter. The marquee leaves little doubt that vaudeville was playing at the Hippodrome, one of the 10 names for the theatre at 21 N. Sutter that opened in 1904 as The Unique. The "Hip" also played stock musicals, including the popular Roy "Hiram" Clare. Recalling a previous theatre name, the barbershop at the left is named the Garrick
Idle Hour Theatre - 26 N. Sutter-  in 1914 The Empire. The Empire was razed in 1919 for a dress shop, loan institution and finally a parking lot
19 S. El DoradoImperial Theatre - 19 S. Eldorado Street - The Imperial Theatre was operating prior to 1941. It was screening Spanish language films from 1943, and continued until at least 1952.- Demolished
33-35 S. CenterLiberty Theatre - 33 S. Center Street - The Liberty Theatre had been operating prior to 1949, when it was listed as (Closed). It remained closed until 1954, when it reopened for at least another year. The Liberty Theatre operated as an African-American theatre. - Demolished
28 S. El DoradoLincoln Theatre - 28 S. Eldorado Street - The Lincoln Theatre was listed as an African-American theatre in the period 1930-1932. It was still open in 1952.- Demolished - Photo - SPD Archives
124 N. Sutter St.Lyric Theatre - 124 N Sutter. The film, Crashing Through To Berlin, was released in 1918. This building was the Lyric, National (1924), Studio, Roxy, United California Bank site, then Western Marine Insurance and finally part of the RTD. Photo on left courtesy of Kevin Shavwer. The first Lyric Theatre was at 28 S. Sutter which later became a restaurant
Mandarin Theatre - Stockton, CA 95202 - The Mandarin Theatre was operating prior to 1941, and continued until at least 1943. It had gone from listings by 1950.
Maze Theatre - 220 E. Main. The Maze was razed in 1921 and replaced by the 1,000 seat Rialto (opened Dec. 10 1921), razed 1950 for a department store annex
Midway Drive-In TheatreLower Sacramento Road and Armstrong Road - Midway Drive-In Theatre - Photo by James McKellips - Comments from Cimema Treasures - The 350-car Midway Drive-In opened on April 14, 1949 and was described as being 3 miles south of Lodi at Lower Sacramento Road at Armstrong Junction. The owners were William D. Bascom of Palo Alto and Walter A. Lawrence of Modesto. The Lodi News-Sentinel described them as being graduate engineers, who handled the construction of the theater, which had the room to expand to 550 cars.

Manager John L. Adams said there was a definite reason for locating the theater midway between Stockton, as there was a potential market for 125,000 persons. The theater would play nothing but first-run films and had a working agreement with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and newsreels would be flown in from New York everyday of the week.

On June 1, 1949, the Midway Drive-In received competition when the 99 Drive-In opened in Stockton. In June of 1950, apparently in an ownership change, the Midway Drive-In was renamed the Tokay Drive-In and reverted to second-run films.

On December 14, 1954, their advertisement read ďClosed for repairs. Watch for reopening date". Evidently those who watched for the reopening date never saw it again. According to the News-Sentinel, the screen later blew over in a windstorm.

 

El Dorado & ClaytonMotor Movies - 546 Clayton Avenue - The Stockton Motor Movies was a drive-in theatre on Clayton Avenue at Highway 50. It had a capacity for 887 cars, and was operating from the late-1940ís by the Blumenfeld Theatres chain. It was still operating in 1955. - Theatre Demolished. This box office remains.
National Theatre - CLOSED - 1925-? 1935 - 800 seats.- 124 North Sutter - This building was the Lyric, National, Studio, Roxy, United California Bank site, then Western Marine Insurance and finally part of the RTD. Photo Courtesy of Kevin Shawver
335 E. WeberNovelty Theatre - 335 E. Weber in 1911. The Novelty was located at the present site of Newberry's. The Novelty offered half a dozen second rate vaudeville acts and two motion pictures, usually a one reel comedy or a news reel.
Orpheum Theatre - 114 E. Main
Pacific Theatre
The Pavillion
Pollardville Palace Showboat Theatre
Raymond theatre - El Dorado and Channel
Regency Cinema Fourplex CLOSED - 7809 Etna Lane - 1990-2002 - Mann theatres owned this theatre.- Demolished. Both the Regency as well as the Festival Cinemas were owned and operated by FESTIVAL ENTERPRISES. It later changed hands in 1986 to MANN THEATRES and in 2000 to SIGNATURE THEATRES. It was torn down in 2002. Photo Courtesy of Floyd Perry Jr.
Rialto TheatreRialto Theatre - On the right - Originally at 24 South Sutter -  210-220 East Main Street - The Rialto Theatre dates back to at least 1922 when a Robert-Morton organ was installed. It was renovated in 1949, to the plans of architect William Glenn Balch. The Rialto Theatre was demolished January 1950 to make room for a department store addition and latter the Jury assembly room
Ritz TheatreRitz TheatreRitz Theater - 426 East Main Street - The Ritz Theater opened in 1937. The Ritz Theater was still listed in 1955 with 926 seats. -Left photo courtesy of Denise Armstrong, right photo courtesy of Floyd Perry Jr.- Demolished
Roxy Theatre - 118 N. Sutter Street - The Roxy Theatre was operating prior to 1941, and continued until at least 1952. 750 seats. This building was the Lyric, National, Studio, Roxy, United California Bank site, then Western Marine Insurance and finally part of the RTD. .Photo Courtesy of Terry Gust
5757 Pacific AvenueSherwood Plaza CLOSED - 5757 Pacific Ave - 1968-? 1995 - This theatre was twinned in the 1980's - Owners: 1968 General Cinemas Left photo courtesy of John Tartantino. Right photo courtesy of Floyd perry jr.
Sherwood Theatre - 321 W. Yokuts
1940s Main & California, Sierra Theatre, Pennys, BergsSierra Theatre - 526 E. Main Street Next to Penny's - The Sierra Theatre was operating prior to 1941, and continued until closing in 1953. It was operated by Blumenfeld Theatres chain which also erected the Esquire  - 650 seats. After the Sierra closed its doors, it was remodeled into Ardens (a women's clothing store). The Sierra Theatre building is still standing today as Solorio's Furniture Store.
Star Theatre - 26 E. Market Street - The Star Theatre was operating prior to 1941, and continued until at least 1952. 530 seats - Demolished
321-323 E. MainState Theatre - 321-323 E. Main Street - The Yosemite Theatre was opened around 1893. It was remodeled by architects Weeks & Day in 1920 and re-named Loew's State Theatre. Listed in the 1941 & 1943 editions of Film Daily Yearbook as the Fox State Theatre with a seating capacity given as 1,510. In the 1950 & 1952 editions it is the State Theatre with a slightly reduced seating capacity to 1482 seats. Following the closure in 1954 of the Esquire Theatre, the name was transferred to this theatre.- Demolished
Stockton High School Auditorium
17 S. El Dorado StreetStockton Theatre - 17 South El Dorado, Southeast corner of Main. Built in 1853. The 500 seat theatre burned to the ground on July 4, 1890. There were no less than eight theatres with the name "Stockton" in them. It all began in 1850 when the assembly room of the pioneer Stockton House at El Dorado and Channel was converted into a makeshift theatre for the entertainment of pioneer merchants and miners. The Stockton House Theatre lasted only three month, however the Historic Stockton Theatre was erected at Main and El Dorado three years later. Although frequently in disrepair, the Stockton played the best in theatre - Laura Keane, Modjeska, Lotta Crabtree, George Marion and James O'Neil. However the once :most handsomely decorated hall of amusement in California" was damaged beyond repair by a mysterious fire on Fourth of July eve, 1890
Stockton Empire TheatreStockton Empire Theatre - 1825 Pacific Avenue - This is a great old Art Deco style theater right at the beginning of Stocktonís Miracle Mile district. Itís gone in and out of business for the longest time and hopefully itís new owners will make headway with it. It has a lot of promise but as far as I know it is going to be devastatingly remodeled. The lobby is going to be torn out. Horrible! It has really awesome old lights hanging from the ceiling and a grand entrance to the main screen. Originally when it first opened on June 16, 1945, it only had the one large auditorium, but somewhere in time the three smaller newer screens were added on the side. They are not in very good condition but the original Stockton theatre is great. Hopefully we will see a rejuvenation of the property, not an abomination. The Stockton from 1920-? 1975 989 seats. Owners: 1961 Western Amusements 1969 Westland Theatres 989 seats. Owners: 1961 Western Amusements 1969 Westland Theatres
Stockton Empire TheatreStockton Royal Theatre - 1925 Pacific Avenue The four unit complex know as the Royal Stockton Theatre opened on Pacific Avenue in 1945 and became the first neighborhood theatre in Stockton and was a forerunner to the demise of the downtown theatres. Pictured here in the 1970s
Strand Theater - 33 East Main. Also known as The Bell
Stockton Empire Theatre242 E. Main St - T&D TheatreT&D Theatre - (The initials for Turner and Dahnken). - 242 E. Main Street - Although the T & D theatre opened in 1917 and was equipped for legitimate attractions, the stage was not used until a year later when the Holt Manufacturing Glee Club presented a concert.. Instrumental in the glee club was Frank Thornton Smith, later founder and director for many years of the "Monday Nighters'.

With 2,540 seats it was by far the largest Stockton theatre. The architecture was classic Cornthian. The foyer suggested the entry into an opera house and the lobby walls were lined with paintings of famous movie stars.. There were 1000 seats on the main floor, 1540 in the balcony with 14 main floor loges and 10 in the balcony.

The $24,000 grand organ could reproduce the sounds of 140 musical instruments, In 1924, the theatre was acquired by West Coast Theatres and became the California theatre. it was closed and demolished in 1929. The Fox California Theatre was built in 1930 by the Fox West Coast Theatre circuit.

Village Theatre - 6543 Pacific Avenue (back side)- Opened in 1966 - Renamed Valley Cinema Theatre in 1978, closed June, 1982.- Today Trader Joe's. Photo courtesy of Floyd Perry Jr.
Westlane Drive-In CLOSED - 1964-? 1985 - 1136 cars. Westland Theatres owned this drive-in. - Demolished - See Hammer Lane Drive-In Above
The Yosemite Theatre building looking out the East walk of the Courthouse 20 N. san JoaquinThe Yosemite Theatre building - 20 N. San Joaquin - looking out the East walk of the Courthouse. Located between Bank of Stockton and Bravo McKeegan on San Joaquin. I believe at one time it was also The American Trust / Wells Fargo Location. The Yosemite Theatre opened either in 1892 or 1893. The Yosemite closed in 1919. The conversion of the house into the State Theatre took place in 1920.  It was remodeled by architects Weeks & Day in 1920 and re-named Loew's State Theatre. Listed in the 1941 & 1943 editions of Film Daily Yearbook as the Fox State Theatre with a seating capacity given as 1,510. In the 1950 & 1952 editions it became The State Theatre with a slightly reduced seating capacity. Following the closure in 1954 of the towns' Esquire Theatre, the name was transferred to this theatre..
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