Crystal Theater

137 Main Street,
Salinas, CA 93901

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: T & D Jr. Enterprises

Architects: Otto A. Deichmann, Marc T. Jorgensen

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Brown's Opera House, T & D Theatre

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News About This Theater

Crystal Theater ... Salinas California

Opened as Brown’s Opera House. It was renamed T & D Theatre on August 23, 1919 and closed in 1921 when the towns' new T & D Theatre opened (now the Fox California Theatre). It was reopened in the mid-1920’s as the Crystal Theatre. Closed in the 1970’s, the Crystal Theater was demolished in late-2003 for a 16-screen multiplex.

Contributed by Jim Crowl

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

tomdelay on July 30, 2005 at 12:44 am

The Crystal Theatre facade was to have been retained in the new building. The facsimile of the Crystal facade is on the north side of the new Maya Cinemas building. The facade is much-scaled back from the original. There is absolutely no doubt in looking at the facade that the original facade is long gone.

I seriously wonder if there was ever any consideration given to retaining the original facade as that structure would have been too far forward and too wide to ever have been in balance with the new facade.

On the positive, the original Crystal sign tower has been loosely copied—right down to the steel steps in the west side of the sign
to service the neon on the original sign. Some of the 1930s art deco bas relief has been replicated in lightweight material and ads to the “feel” of what was there originally. One can still see (until the building gets painted..)the original outline of the Crystal facade (and how far it went out to the sidewalk) and compare that to the new “Crystal”.

For all my complaints about the destruction of the Crystal, the new Maya Cinemas has far more of the movie palace “look” than any other local theatre—excepting the Golden State Theatre in Monterey. (THe Salinas Fox facade could be spectacular again if that 1948 chevron pattern skin were removed to reveal the magnificent Corinthian columns and statues buried under there for all these decades. Unfortunately, the top upper 10' portion of the Fox facade was built of brick and is severely damaged.)

The Maya Cinemas building looks good all around on both the Main Street facade and the rear Monterey Street portion of the building.

I am most intrigued by the fact that the main 400 seat auditorium has a full line of “storage space” behind the screen. There is a new Yamaha player grand in the lobby. How about carrying the movie palace theme to including a theatre organ in the “storage space”. Too bad the organ in the Salinas Fox is leaving town soon heading for the Indiana Theatre in Terra Haute, Indiana.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 14, 2006 at 4:12 pm

Another view of the Crystal Theatre (b&w) here:

tomdelay on March 14, 2006 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for the link Ken. The new 14 screen multiplex on the site of the old Brown’s Opera House/T & D/Crystal is a very nice looking building—for a modern structure.

Evan after painting, if you know where to look on the wall of the brick building next door to the new Maya Cinemas, you can still see the outline of the Crystal’s balcony. Further back in an airspace between the old and new building is a wall that still has stencil work on it from the Brown’s Opera House/T & D/Crystal.

Benny on November 7, 2007 at 2:57 am

1964 was quite a year for an Iowa farm boy/projectionist who was first introduced in to the world of X rated movies at the Crystal.
The owner, Jerry, (I can’t remember his last name) was still another colorful theatre owner/operator. His trademark was a large cigar. Very nice fellow who always intrigued me as to why he would operate an X rated movie theatre. I believe I now undersand that he was making money. Nice basic projection room with Simplex E-7 projectors and Peerless Magnarc arc lamps. Definitely a “fun” place to show movies especially not knowing, going in the first time that motion picture film could be so sexy. It was tough concentrating on the upper right hand corner for changeover cues. Really tough.
Once Again, Respectfully Submitted,
Ben Kehe
Motion Picture Projection Services, Inc.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
918 906 3715

tomdelay on November 7, 2007 at 3:30 am

And in its silent film/vaudeville days, the Crystal, then called the T & D, was a very attractive opera house/vaudeville theatre. Just last week I came across a photo of a prize fight on-stage looking out at a filled house. The opera boxes were an interesting contrast to the on-stage fight. The T & D name was carried over to the new theatre (now the Fox) in 1921. The former T & D closed for a few years and reopened as the Crystal in the mid ‘20s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 21, 2009 at 6:30 am

The remodeling of the Crystal Theatre to the Art Deco style was done in 1936. Architects for the remodeling were Otto A. Deichmann and Mark T. Jorgensen. A rendering of their design was published in the November 11, 1936, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, though the caption misspelled Jorgensen as Torgensen.

LBorg on February 13, 2011 at 4:14 am

My Uncle, Lawrence Borg, became half owner of the Crystal Theatre Lease and Business in Salinas, California, in 1928.

View link

Under the Name of Crystal Theatre Company, , Inc., and was president of the corporation which in 1935 built the El Rey Theatre in Salinas. This corporation was dissolved in 1941, after which Lawrence Borg was owner of half of the Crystal Theatre lease and business and El Ray Theatre property and business.

In 1953 the Crystal Theatre property was sold, although he maintained a one-half interest in the El Rey Theatre until the colose of this life.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2012 at 10:52 am

The architect’s rendering of the Crystal Theatre in Boxoffice of November 14, 1936, mentioned in my earlier comment, can be seen at this link.

rivest266 on March 3, 2019 at 6:49 pm

1907 and 1919 grand opening ads posted.

It was sold for non-payment of taxes per The Californian of January 27th, 1965. On November 16th, 1965 it was raided by police for obscenity. Filipino movies 1970-1973

Trial: Crystal theatre trialCrystal theatre trial Thu, Feb 17, 1966 – 1 · The Californian (Salinas, Monterey, California, United States of America) ·

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