Tower Theatre for the Performing Arts
815 E. Olive Avenue,
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Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres
Architects: Simeon Charles Lee
Functions: Performing Arts
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Tower Theatre
News About This Theater
The Tower Theatre opened with a premier showing of Nelson Eddy in “Balalaika” for a private party of local dignitaries, Fox West Coast Theatre executives, and guests on December 14, 1939. Co-hosts for the event were developer and owner A. Emory Wishon (1882-1948) of San Francisco, a prominent California hydroelectric executive, and Charles P. Skouras of Los Angeles, president of Fox West Coast Theaters.
The theatre opened its doors to the film-viewing public on December 15, 1939. The double feature program included Lana Turner in “Dancing Coed” and Frank Morgan in “Henry Goes Arizona”.
A complete restoration of the exterior façade, ongoing tenant improvements in the retail wings, and modifications to allow the adaptive reuse of the theatre auditorium for the performing arts have brought new life to the theatre and to the surrounding Tower District. The area has since become a lively collection of restaurants, pubs, jazz clubs, and antique shops, with the highly successful Tower Theatre for the Performing Arts at its center.
In 1991, the dramatic theatre rehabilitation was honored with a California Preservation Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Restoration, and with an Award of Honor from the San Joaquin Chapter, American Institute of Architects. In January 2021 the building was sold to a church, but it remains a Performing Arts Center.
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