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The Straight Theater, once the Haight Street Movie Theater, was demolished in 1981. 😞
A photograph of the Victory above was taken in 1943, but was probably built in 1939 - wondering if this theatre opened specifically for wartime entertainment(?). Raymond Syufy’s Victory theatre in south Vallejo was built in 1942 (next to the Victory wartime housings built for the Mare Island defense workers) and closed in 1950. I’m guessing this Benicia Victory Theatre probably close that same year.
This Theatre opened up as the Regal Theatre May 13, 1999 and around 2010 the name changed to AMC Theatre.
The Theatre closed on July 7, 2019.
It’s currently on the Real Estate Market being sold for $12Mil.
According to old timer Martinez citizens the street numbers on Escobar St. were redone and the new building where the Avalone Theatre was located is now the Contra Costa Community College District. (Escobar St. and Court St.)
I’m guessing that the Lyric Theatre was still around during the early to mi-1920s. Based on a documented history of Kristin Delaplane the daughter of Fred Fisch a businessman pioneer of Vallejo in the 1900s. She writes:
“Crowley’s Department Store was a fun store to go through, across from Crowley’s was a store and underneath it was a THEATRE. We also had the Hanlon Theater on Virginia Street and the Vallejo Theater.
Both the Hanlon and the Vallejo (aka Empress) Theatres were in the timeframe of 1920. Accross from the Crawley’s Department Store were other Department stores, I believe it a Men’s apparel and downstairs had to be the Lyric Theatre, that she is referring too. Later it became an arcade place they called the “Rat Hole”.
Vallejos Rex & Nickelodeon is known as the first moving picture theatre and the Waldorf Theatre (aka Novelity / Bell), is known to be the oldest theatre, but the actual oldest documented theatre in Vallejo went by the name of The Eureka Theatre. The Eukreka Theatre was a stage and Vuldeville theatre built in 1862 located on the corner of Sacramento Street and York Street, it was a place for the town as the center of social activities, known as Eureka Hall. The original owner was a Mr. Gorman, a Mare Island Master Painter, and it was used primarily as a theatrical stage for production plays and a few traveling shows– one of the first shows that played here was Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’.
On July 12, 1900 the theatre was converted into a Lodge room and became known as Eagles Hall from 1900 to World War I, it then was demolished around 1917.
This Rex & Nickelodeon is known as the first moving picture theatre in Vallejo and the Waldorf Theatre (aka Novelity / Bell), is known to be the oldest theatre, but the actual oldest documented theatre in Vallejo went by the name of The Eureka Theatre. The Eukreka Theatre (1862) was a stage and Vuldeville theatre before it became the Eagles Hall. This theatre was located at Sacramento Street and York Street.
Thanks for the information.
Benicia has only had 3-4 movie theatres and none exist today, the Majestic building is still around but used mainly for stage plays and parties.
I have an old letter head of the People’s Theatre, the Proprietor was a J.B. Maloche, a businessman around the late 1800s. The letterhead does mention it as a Popular moving picture house. Just don’t know any exact dates it was in business…
I always wondered why they would close the Orpheum Theatre and open another theatre up right next door (1920 – Majestic Theatre), unless it was the same owner(?)
Joe Vogel, just curious do you have any information regarding the Peoples Threatre in Martinez, Ca. guessing it opened around the same time as the National…
The Avalon Theatre may have Opened in 1931 and Closed around circa 1958 based on some of the Citizens who grew up in the town of Martinez, Ca.
According the the Martinez Historical Society and Citizens who last attended a film at the Statue Theatre, these are the dates that come up:
Building Built: 1922
Theatre Opened: July 2, 1926
Year Theatre Closed: 1969
Here is the history background from wiki, The Century Theater chain was originally named Syufy Enterprises, for its founder Raymond Syufy (senior), who built his first theater in Vallejo, CA in 1941. The first Century theater was the Century 21 in San Jose, California, which opened in 1963, adjacent to the Winchester Mystery House.
We really can’t say why Ray Syufy put the sign Cine 21 on the Tennessee St. theatre but my guess is since the Century 21 business name existed since 1941 and the El Rey opened in 1949, the Cine name was probably short for Cinema and 21 was for the ending part of Century 21. He probably didn’t want to put up a larger Marquee neon sign called Century.(?), we wouldn’t really know unless we ask the Syufy family.
The building is located between Virginia and Georgia St. at Indian Alley. It is built with old bricks with an updated modern front face on the China Wok restaurant, it was previously named the New China Café. Originally, the building on this block was called the Colby block. Before the Rex Theatre, at various times it had an upholstery shop, meat market, grocery store, saloon, notions store, millinery shop and in the 70s was George’s shoe shop, Al’s barber shop. The original buildings was made of wood and built in the early 1860s.
This theatre is a privately held company in Vallejo, CA., The owner lives in Hawaii.
It is categorized under Tape Recorders/Players-Sound/Video Equipment, records show it was established in 1969 and incorporated in California, current estimates show the company has an annual revenue of less than $500,000 and employs a staff of approximately 1 to 4.
It has 1 screen and uses Avi Video Players, Dv Video Players, Music Video Players, Digital Video Disc Recorder and Mpeg 4 Video Players.
I believe you are correct, although Syufy started to get into the Drive-In business in the early 1950s.
Rita – Took over this theatre in 1940 (previous owner did not finish building), was located on Solano Ave. at Georgia St. Central, 1 screen, 695 seats – later added to 912 seats. (first theatre Synfy owned)
Victory – Open 1942, 909 Sonoma Blvd and Chestnut, 1 screen, 700 seats.
El Rey – Open 1949, 910 Tennessee St., 1 screen later 3 screens, 575 seats.
Island Auto movie Drive-In, Alameda – Open 1950 Synfy, Closed 1991
El Rancho Drive-In, San Pablo, Richmond – Open 1951 Homer Gray, 1953 by Richmond drive-in Inc. & Syufy
Geneva 4 Drive-In, Daily City – Open 1950 Synfy, Closed
The Port Chicago Theatre also went by the names Blue Star Theatre and the Angeles Theatre.
The advertisement from the Vallejo Times Hearld about the Rita Theatre, the article appears on 11/30/1940 but the Grand Opening wasn’t until 6/5/1941. The address shown was Solano at Georgia Central. There was only 1 Rita Theatre in Vallejo, the only discrepancy is the number of seating’s from 695 to 912. Because the theatre is so close to I-40 and the dates match. The open date of 1948 is probably when it closed due to a small fire. The building reopened later as a drive in car wash, called the Rita Car Wash(see advertisement of Rita theatre in photos).
Also, (see article of Raymond Syufy – Times newspaper San Mateo, 1966) – mentions that Ray Syufy took over the Rita Theatre in Vallejo because the previous owner at the time could not get supplies to finish building because of WWII)
Syufy’s first theatre is called the Rita. – Below is a timeline of Vallejo theaters that Raymond Syufy had owned:
Rita – Opened in 1941 at 1520 Solano Ave. 1 screen (originally 695 seats) then add to 912 seats, it had fire damage in 1947, it turned into the Rita Car Wash.
El Rey – Opened in the summer of 1949, located at 910 Tennessee St., 1 screen later 3 screens, 575 seats. Later it was renamed Cine 21 in 1968 then Cine 3 in June of 1980.
Crest – Built 1911 the Empress renamed the Senator,took over by Syufy 1952 and rename the Crest. 1 screen, 500 seats sold off to the Elliot family.
In 1948 went against the motion picture industry to help break the monopoly power they (Paramount, MGM, Warner Brothers, RKO, Fox) held over the exhibitors of the films they produced and they won! The Big Five, as these producers came to be known, were fully integrated across all three vertical stages—production, distribution, and exhibition. The very small exhibitors who was instrumental in helping the district courts, and later the Supreme Court, break this monopoly was Ray Syufy. The Big Five were ordered by the Supreme Court to divest themselves vertically of all holdings (first-run theaters) and relinquish their control of the first-run exhibition market. (later on, ala Century Theatres – the saga goes on)…
Per the Bell Theater information: the Waldorf Theatre or Waldorf Corner (Waldorf Grill & Bar)as it was called, was owned by A.P. Rothenbush and the Soloon managed by William R. Acock. (located at 610 Marin Street)– On December 16 1901, it opened as a new ‘Refined Vaudeville’ show. In January 1904, it became the Novelty Theatre showing a combination of vaudeville and movies under the direction of the management of Arthur Payne. By March 1911, the Novelty Theatre was leased to John C. Campbell and George B. Richart who installed a first class picture machine and it reopened as the New Novelty Theatre.
An advertisement about the Novelty Theatre: I also found a vaudeville circuit advertisement in Billboard Vol XVII, No. 16, dated April 22, 1905 for the Vallejo Novelity Theatre.
Affiliated Western Vaudeville Circuit – Directors: -S. Morton Cohn, -Theodore Rothschild, -Henry Lubeliski; Managing Director: Tony Lubelski Novelity Theatres Vallejo, Ca.
Circuit Information: Sam’L Loverich, President – Tony Lubelski. Vice President and General Mgr. Other theatres listed Western Office Fischers, San Francisco; Novelity, Oakland; Grand, Reno Nv.
The Novelty Theatre in Oakland opened September 22, 1904, a part of the theater featured a penny arcade. One could imagine that the Vallejo Novelty was probably not as big but may have had a similar setup.
I came up with an earlier opening date, October 21, 1907. the Victory Theatre was the second theatre to be manage by Isadore Coleman Levey (his first was the Columbia Theatre in Oakland). He went on to manage a number of theatres in the bay area and organized (theatrical agent) for vaudeville shows in collaboration with his son Bert Levey. (manager of Princess, Garrick, Alcazar Theatres, the Republic Theatre in Vallejo and Sequoia Theatre in Sacramento).
The ValMar building was built in the 1880s, it first was a grocery store owned by the Cochran and Collins brewery, then Collins Grocery Co. for about 30 years, it then became an auto showroom for Cadillac Agency. In the late 1920s it was taken over by an independent moving picture company, may have had a different name before the ValMar but it was co-operated by P.S. Macdonald and Louis Trager. Around 1937 William Fox West Coast Theatres purchased it and became a chain. The ValMar closed around the end of WWII (see news article in the photos area).
The Vallejo TimesHearld newspaper clipping dated Feburary 22, 1957, was provided from the archives of the Valline family.
The Vallejo Chronicle newspaper clipping, dated Friday, December 4, 1935, came from the archives of the Freudenberg-Hoffman archives.
It looks like W.G. Maupin not only at one time managed the Star Theatre but also the Bell theatre, and later the Repubilic theatre, after Gus Cohn left to manage the Empress theatre. Maupin in 1913 with Bert Levi circuit, managed the Republic theatre. He was documented as the manager of the Bell theatre in 1915, then was noted as reopening the Star theatre in 1916.
Per Joe Vogel’s post on the Vallejo Bell theatre: The Cohn family (Gus Cohn) operated houses called the Bell Theatre in Oakland,San Francisco and Vallejo. There were two Bell Theatres in San Francisco.
I came across a reference to the Bell Theatre on Market Street being destroyed in the 1906 fire, but the Bell that Gus Cohn was connected with in later years was on Mission Street.
I documented: Just for reference, counting there were six Bell Theatres around the beginning of the 1900s in Northern California. (In Oakland – 1903, Sacramento – 1907, Livermore – 1909, San Francisco – 1911, Redwood City – 1915, but not all may have been operated by Gus Cohn.
The Studio Theatre tuned into a GrandAuto Service store in the mid 1950s, then later a Furniture place in the later years.