Oaks Theater

1875 Solano Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94707

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walterk on February 10, 2018 at 4:46 am

The Berkeley Gazette ran an article about the opening of the Oaks that evening, on September 15, 1925. The two pictures that accompanied it are now in the photo section

stevenj on August 16, 2017 at 1:55 am

Touchstone Climbing, the company behind Ironworks and other gyms around California, plans to purchase the Oaks Theatre in Berkeley and turn it into a climbing facility.


jordanlage on July 30, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Yes, it’s a classic theater that deserves to be restored and showing repertory fare, like the Castro or the Stanford. Trouble will always be parking on Solano Avenue.

terrywade on June 3, 2017 at 4:17 am

Once someone removes the wall down the middle and brings in a better large screen and sound system this will be a great place to see a movie or live music event in the future. Tired in need of remodel work all the Landmark cinemas in Berkeley/Albany they lease will have some competition If the Oaks re opens again and fixed up. I have some friends with $$ that may be interested and may take a look this week.

walterk on May 23, 2017 at 5:39 pm

A local article says the Oaks has been put up for sale, after 6 years of unsuccessfully trying to lease it. It's hoped that nonprofits that may have been put off by the thought of raising funds to refurbish a leased space will find it more attractive if they can own the building. Asking price is $4.25 million, the property includes 5 retail spaces and 5 offices. A vintage photograph accompanies the article, it appears to be from the late 1930s.

moviebear1 on March 14, 2017 at 4:05 pm

At 8 years old I saw my first 3D movie here “IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE” I was so impressed that any time I had a chance to see 3-D I would go out of my way to do so. In 2004 I visited the theatre again. and was pleased to find it was still there and open for business. They were running Oceans Eleven. Great memories. They are closed now but It is still standing. Here’s hoping someone will bring it back to life.

jordanlage on September 7, 2016 at 7:59 am

Saw a few movies at the Oaks in my time, but the only ones I remember was a double-feature of Don Taylor’s “Tom Sawyer” the musicalized version from 1973 I believe, and right after it, John Sturges’s “Joe Kidd” with Clint Eastwood. These would have been second or even third runs of these films. I saw this double-feature in July or August of 1973. Joe Kidd was released in July of 1972; Tom Sawyer’s release date was March 1973. I’ve always liked that the Oaks was perched prominently at the top of Solano Avenue in Albany (Berkeley), and looked forward to seeing what was on the marquee as you drove west out of the Northbrae Tunnel. That it’s closed now (and McCallum’s ice cream!) significantly diminishes the allure of the Solano Ave commercial district. Should Pegasus Books fold that will be the end of my visits to that neighborhood.

AndrewBarrett on October 2, 2014 at 3:49 am

I am very glad to see this theatre still standing and I do hope it will open again before too long.

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, the “Oaks Th.” in Berkeley, California had a two manual Leathurby-Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1925.

Further information on the organ, such as size (# of ranks), and blower information, is not given in the book.

Does anybody know what happened to this organ or it’s parts, and where it is/they are today? Thanks!

Also, if anyone has photos of the organ chamber(s) in the theatre, that would be great!!!

Would the current owners be amenable to allowing a visitor to come and take pictures of the organ chambers in the closed theatre, if they’re still present?


Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

misterken on April 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Sad when this local community theatre closed. I enjoyed not only the movies but also the lit marque at night.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 14, 2011 at 1:59 am

Thanks for all the pictures.Looks like a nice theatre.

CSWalczak on January 4, 2011 at 1:12 am

The Oaks has closed again; the owner is again looking for new managers: View link

CSWalczak on April 29, 2010 at 11:06 pm

The new owners want to add Bollywood fare and change the refreshment stand offerings: View link

CSWalczak on April 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm

The Oaks has new operators according to this article: View link

The theater’s new website is http://www.berkeleyoaks.com

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 14, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Cinema Treasures gets a mention in this article about the uncertain future of the Oaks Theater.

thomasgladysz on December 20, 2009 at 12:58 am

As this page notes, the Oaks opened September 15, 1925. One of the very first films to screen at the theater after its opening was “The Street of Forgotten Men,” which showed at the theater from September 23-26, 1925. The film, which still exists, is remembered today as the first film in which silent film star Louise Brooks had a part.

The Oaks was a second run theater in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Other Louise Brooks films which screened there, after initially showing elsewhere in Berkeley, include

“The American Venus” (May 13, 1926 with “The Timber Wolf”)
“A Social Celebrity” (Sept. 3-4, 1926)
“It’s the Old Army Game” (Oct. 10-11, 1926)
“The Show-Off” (Mar. 3-4, 1927)
“Now We’re in the Air” (Jan. 22-23, 1928)
“The City Gone Wild” (Jan. 18-19, 1928 with “Rose of the Tenements”)
“A Girl in Every Port” (June 17-18, 1928)
“Beggars of Life” (Feb. 24-25, 1929)
“Canary Murder Case” (June 23-24, 1929)
“God’s Gift to Women” (July 22-24, 1931 with “Woman Hungry”) **
“When You’re in Love” (June 17, 1937 with “Tundra”)
“King of Gamblers” (Sept. 11-14, 1937 with “The Singing Marine”)

** As far as I am aware, “God’s Gift to Women,” made its East Bay debut at the Oaks.

Kevin05 on December 8, 2005 at 8:17 pm

A group of neighbors is researching the history of the Oaks Theater. If you know anything about it, please email us at , or call at 510-526-0831. We’re starting a little “support” group to keep the theater alive.
From remarks above, looks like esp frenchjr25 and gsmurph know a bit of history of the Oaks. If you get this, pls email or call.

gsmurph on September 12, 2005 at 5:44 pm

The Oaks opened September 15, 1925, in a gala that consisted of dedication speeches, a select photoplay program, a vaudeville segment(!, but then it did [and still does] have a stage fly tower), and a concert on the new $25,000 Geneva organ by organist Sebastian Apollo (the theater as a whole cost $200.000 to build). Originally Modified Moorish (or Spanish Colonial) in style, subsequent remodelings have given it an Art Moderne facade.

Eric on February 16, 2005 at 7:17 pm

According to RR’s website, The Oaks will be operated by Metropolitan Theatres starting Fri 02/18…

DKelley on May 30, 2004 at 10:45 am

The Oaks is a lovely place to see a movie!

Even though some of the Chandeliers were “stolen” for use at the Alameda Naval Air Base theatre…but that theatre is BEAUTIFUL!

The owner here keeps a very comfortable little theatre to see films in. Needs some new seats…but theatre#1 still has a balcony that is used for overflow traffic. Good sized auditoriums and REAL butter. Check it out!

frenchjr25 on November 15, 2003 at 7:55 pm

According to the website the history is:

The Oaks Theater was originally opened in 1925. It was designed by the Reid Brothers, the architects of the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland and the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

The Oaks Theater was leased to Renaissance Rialto in October 1994. It was immediately closed for a short time for restoration and renovation which gave this beloved neighborhood theater the look and feel to a classic movie palace. The Oaks was reopened in December 1994.

Noteworthy decorative additions to the theater are:

Chandeliers from the Fox Theater, Oakland

Wood and etched glass doors from the Garden Theater (San Jose)

Custom made light fixtures along the walls were made from decorative pieces scavenged from the long closed T & D Theater in Oakland’s downtown.

Original Oaks Theater chandeliers which were purchased by Renaissance Rialto from the operators of the Oaks Theater in the 1980’s were restored and reinstalled.

gsmurph on October 28, 2003 at 9:12 pm

The Oaks was originally a single-screen theater; the auditorium was split in two about 1973.