Del Mar Theatre

1124 Pacific Avenue,
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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Showing 1 - 25 of 32 comments

DENNISMAHANEY1 on February 15, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Just look over this post am shocked at how this old classic of the theater looks today, I was with the small theater chain took over this theater and others after the do nothing and spend nothing chain of U.A. I did almost nothing but as much as I could being alone and without funds, my health went and retired do to health. LANDMARK WELL DONE YOU SAVE A CLASSIC OF A THEATER, so many we lost, I am so please this one was saved

terrywade on October 10, 2017 at 11:06 am

Good news thanks to Scott one of the managers at Theatre Delmar the great red waterfall curtains are working again as of Oct 7 2017. We hope Scott like before can also put in a cue for the curtains to close again on the last 10sec of trailers then open again on the main feature. Showmanship is back at Landmark in Santa Cruz! Now let’s go to work on the neon marquee repair project.

DavidZornig on April 25, 2017 at 8:39 am

1936 postcard image added courtesy of Sandy Ragsdaleā€Ž.

terrywade on December 8, 2016 at 9:33 pm

The curtains as of the first week in Dec 2016 are broke and Landmark won’t fix them. The neon marquee has many letters and light bars off and not working. Seems Landmark does not care to fix anything at this time. They blame It on the city of Santa Cruz that owns the Del Mar, Landmark just pays the lease each month. Soon nothing will light up when all the neon goes out.

terrywade on November 23, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Sad news I have heard today Nov 23 2015 the great Del Mar Theatre along with the Nick and Aptos Twin in the Santa Cruz CA area have just been bought by Landmark Theatres. I can tell you when the nice curtains stop to work at the Del Mar Landmark won’t fix them, just like all the other cinemas they run or rent in the SF Bay Area that had curtains they will leave them broke. Lets see what they do come next month with any neon marquee issues. Goodbye to showmanship in Santa Cruz CA.

rivest266 on July 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

February 8th, 2002 grand opening ad now online.

jschwen on July 26, 2015 at 12:42 pm

The video referred to on my post of 10/19/14 can now be seen here. Sorry about the confusion.

CrystalJo74 on July 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm

I have a personal interest story regarding this historic theater. My grandfather, Robert Hanson, a carpenter, fell from the balcony while working on the original build in 1936, fracturing his skull. He died the next day, May 21, 1936.

According to newspaper clippings that I have, as a gesture of sympathy, his coworkers presented my grandmother and her 2 small children (the youngest being my 1-year old father, Vernon) with a fund that they gave generously from their paychecks the following day.

I would love to have him remembered as one of the original builders of the theater.

Thank you,
Crystal Hanson

rivest266 on July 26, 2015 at 11:36 am

August 14th, 1936 and November 15th, 1978 grand opening ads in photo section.

GaryParks on November 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I have not been to the Del Mar since the new improvements, but, looking at photos of the new carpet, I’m quite amazed. Not only does the new carpet pick up the colors of the lobby ceiling, but many of its motifs and patterns as well. And that’s not all: The patterns even evoke some of the decorative borders which existed in the auditorium ceiling mural, which hasn’t existed since 1990. Obviously, a lot of thought was put into the choice of carpet.

jschwen on October 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Here’s a great slide show of the Del Mar remodel:

jschwen on October 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm

As of today (10/9/14) the Del Mar Grand Auditorium has new luxury seats. Since the larger seats with extra legroom consume more space, the 500 seat auditorium now has 300 seats. The theatre also has beautiful new carpet and fresh paint, with further improvements to come in the near future.

GaryParks on September 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm

The sign on the rear of the stage fly tower of the Del Mar has just been beautifully and authentically repainted. While the painting was going on, I happened to be walking by, and I told the painter in charge about a mistake that had been made in the last repainting of it, in 1985. I emailed him a photo I had from 1982, showing how the sign looked then, and he corrected the error. Also, the Diving Lady and the redwood forest vignette flanking the lettering have never looked so good in all the years I’ve seen the sign (since 1972 or so).

Mikeyisirish on October 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm

few July 2012 photos can be seen here and here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 26, 2012 at 9:15 pm

A questionnaire (PDF file here) prepared for the AIA by the office of architect J. Lloyd Conrich in 1946 lists two theaters among the projects for which he was architect or was associated with others: the “Shasta Theater” (the Cascade Theatre) in Redding and the “Theater del Mar” in Santa Cruz. Both houses were built for Golden State Theatres.

A 2001 post by Warren E. Bechtolt on a message board says: “Research from AIA lists over 190 projects designed by Conrich, 31 of which are theatres.” The post doesn’t name any of these theaters other than the Cascade, but now we know there are at least two survivors among them. Farther down the message board thread the architect’s son, Bob Conrich, posted that “…all of his original tracings are archived at the California Historical Society in San Francisco.” If someone in the Bay Area has access to the collection, maybe they could compile a list of Conrich’s theater designs for us.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on January 10, 2012 at 9:31 am

When I first started working at the Del Mar in 1986, the theatre’s GM at the time, Joe, gave me a ~80 page thesis paper done up by a UCSC student about the history of the Del Mar Theatre, for its 50th anniversary. I may still have it in storage somewhere, but considering some of my stuff may still be in storage in Los Angeles at my dad’s place, it might take a while to locate.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 9, 2011 at 1:09 am

The name in the architect field is misspelled. It should be Chavalis, but I’m not sure he was actually the architect in any case. As far as I’ve been able to determine, William Chavalis was a painter who worked with Gale Santocono. Chavalis painted murals in the Cascade Theatre in Redding, California, among others.

I’ve also been unable to find any references indicating that the firm Salih Brothers designed any buildings. They were general contractors operating a major construction company, and also operated at least one theater themselves (the Center in Fremont, California,) but I can find no evidence that any of them were architects or even designers. Their own theater, the Center, was designed by A. A. Cantin. It, too had murals by William Chavalis.

coweyhere on November 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm

A photo from January 2010:

View link

terrywade on August 22, 2007 at 11:02 pm

Thanks to Jim who runs this great theatre in Surf City Santa Cruz. The best thing ever to happen to downtown Santa Cruz after the 89 earthquake was UA getting out of the theatre business in Santa Cruz. Now they are back up the street with the Regal/UA 9. When they put a wall down the middle of the Delmar to make more money the Delmar lost most of it’s charm. But now the wall is gone with the downstairs theatre almost just as it was with waterfall curtains with purple/red lights on them with deco lights on the side walls. New seats and Dolby Digital. The neon marquee has been fixed up. I heard a rumor that when UA ran the theatre they cut the wires to the marquee rather then fix it. If your in Califoria check out the Delmar. About 90 min down the coast from San Francisco. All the best art films play now on the big screen downstairs, up stairs has two small cinemas in the old balcony. The Delmar is were I saw The High & The Mighty on the big Cinemascope screen with 4 track mag stereo in the 50’s. I was very young but I will always remember the surround stereo sound coming from the sides and back when the plane in the film had trouble. My parents sat in the balcony as the downstairs was sold out. The Delmar is back! Check it out.

tarantex on July 2, 2007 at 9:55 pm

I remember visiting all of UA theatres when Jim GalLager Jr. was the District Manager for the Santa Cruz areas , they were nice old theatres but in need of dollars for repair. Does anyone know where Jim Jr. Is??

kencmcintyre on September 27, 2006 at 8:04 pm

Here is an undated photo showing some interior detail:

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on July 23, 2006 at 8:02 pm

Alan Lopez needed to do a little bit more research before publishing his article.

As a teenager in Santa Cruz in the early to mid 1980s who eventually became an assistant manager at the Del Mar in the mid to late 1980s, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the Del Mar was not a second run theatre during the time I regularly visited or worked there, and was far from being on “hard times” during my watch. I still remember with some fondness and annoyance having to come up with new and exciting ways to trumpet our seemingly never-ending run of “‘Crocodile’ Dundee” in the daily Sentinel newpaper ads, which played first-run at the Del Mar for more than half a year.

UA had their own way of booking their Santa Cruz theatres in the 1980s. The Rio got the expected blockbusters, the Riverfront got the second-level hits, the 41st Avenue Playhouse got the critical and expected award-winners and the Del Mar got the workhorses. (The Aptos Twin was its own conundrum.) It might not have always given the Del Mar the greatest films all of the time, but the theatre wasn’t going for lacking with long first-run plays for films like “Ferris Bueller,” “Star Trek IV” and “Dirty Dancing.”

Now that I live in Los Angeles, I haven’t been to the Del Mar since before the Nick gang took it over. I look forward to checking the old home out in its new splendor.

strawberry on April 7, 2006 at 1:58 am

From the Alan Lopez article “Restored cinemas have audiences cheering” in the November 29th, 2002 edition of the Contra Costa Times:

“…One example is the Del Mar Theater, an art deco movie palace that opened in 1937 with a 25 to 30 cent ticket price. It had more than 1,000 seats, elaborate decorations inside and out and a two-story high cathedral ceiling.

In the 1970s, the United Artists theater chain purchased the theater, split it into four screens and it became a second-run movie house. It took a big hit when the Cinema Nine multiplex opened nearby in the early 1990s.

Jim Schwenterley, the co-owner of the nearby Nickelodeon Theater, said the Del Mar wasn’t managed well and failed to attract audiences. It fell on hard times in the 1980s and ‘90s and was shut down in 1999.

Schwenterley saw the vacant and rotting inside of the theater after it closed. The walls were peeling, there was water on the ground and rats were running in the aisles, he said.

“You’d walk in there and think, ‘Condemn this place,’” he said. “It was a mess.”

The Nickelodeon Theater, two blocks away from the Del Mar, had the opposite problem. It was too popular, according to Schwenterley, there were long lines and packed houses. He wanted to expand and find a new theater where he could screen additional movies.

The Santa Cruz Redevelopment Agency, meanwhile, was receiving proposals for what to do with the Del Mar, including turning it into a performing arts venue.

A new offer

But in late 2000, the Nickelodeon’s owners offered a proposal the redevelopment agency couldn’t refuse. The Nickelodeon, partnering with two local developers, would share in the costs of restoring the theater, operate it and offer the building for public events.

With that in mind, and with public support, the city’s redevelopment agency bought the building in June 2001 for $1.3 million and put in another $700,000 toward the cost of restoring it.

The two developers and Nickelodeon together put in an additional $1.1 million toward the cost of restoring the theater. New seats, screens, wall draperies, carpets, projector equipment, paint and a sound system were installed. More than $25,000 was spent on an elaborate neon marquee.

It now has three theaters, plays art films and attracts several hundred people a night, said Darrell Doan, the redevelopment agency project manager. There are three small businesses inside the building and the theater is used for nonprofit events for as many as 36 nights a year. Doan and Schwenterley said proudly that since it opened, it has hosted six film festivals with free admission.

“It’s become like a major gain for everybody,” said Schwenterley. “We got three extra screens that we really needed because we had so many movies and didn’t have room to play with our little fourplex.”

“In Santa Cruz, the Del Mar Theater is now the pride of the community and, according to Doan, is helping to reinvent the city’s theater district. The renovation project also was awarded the Art Deco Preservation Award by the Art Deco Society of California.

“It’s something that’s definitely doable. It’s not a pipe dream,” Doan said. “The key is to have a strong public commitment.”"

(see Google-cached article here))