California Theatre

5741 Dunsmuir Avenue,
Dunsmuir, CA 96025

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: T & D Jr. Enterprises

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News About This Theater

CALIFORNIA Theatre, Dunsmuir, California

Located at the base of Mt. Shasta, the California Theatre in Dunsmuir was opened in 1926 by T & D Jr Enterprises.

The "California" vertical sign was identical to that made for the California (Fox) Theatre in San Jose. The 800-seat movie theatre featured a Wurlitzer pipe organ (presently in Skagway, Alaska) and a vaudeville stage.

Located right next to a Southern Pacific train stop where extra locomotives were added or removed to enable trains to cross the Shasta/Cascade mountains, the theatre was visited by most actors and actresses on promotional tours. The list includes Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Babe Ruth, The Marx Brothers, and many more.

Operated by the Naify family for over 30 years, the theatre was run by various local families until 1991, when Steve Naify, grandson of James Naify (one of the original owners), bought the building and began restoration. Naify added two additional screens upstairs where the local Masonic Lodge had been conducting business for 69 years.

The California Theatre was reopened in June of 2005 and hosted live performances, silent film screenings, and special events.

Unfortunately, less than a year later, the California Theatre was again closed. It was later reopened ans was screening classic movies, however it had closed again by 2016.

Contributed by Steve Naify

Recent comments (view all 34 comments)

DonaldKirk on February 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Brian: If you are still working on the theatre, I was the media manager in 2005, during the brief live-stage reopening. I need to talk with you! Don Kirk

JohnRice on October 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Passing through Dunsmuir in October 2014 I was pleased to see the California has had some renovations (apparently more still in progress) and is showing classic movies (looks like public domain titles, presumably on DVD) on weekends with more extensive multi-media use to come. They also have a website and a Facebook page. I posted some new pictures on the Photos page here, great to see those old movie titles up on the marquee! Good luck to those folks who are bringing back to life this lovely old theatre in this lovely small town!

kevinfglover on February 17, 2016 at 2:42 pm

I was manager of the California while Steve Naify was running it around ‘94 through '96. I helped convert the old Masonic temple into the two extra screens. For a while I was actually living there in an office above the lobby. BTW for you ghost hunters out there, there is a ghost cat I have seen several times near the projection booth.

Jeffreymoffitt on December 22, 2016 at 7:07 am

I built all three projection rooms. I found a neautifil simplex sound head that sounded great. There was an otiginal voive of the theatre speaker on the stage that still sounded very good. Was fun to play with the old equiptment and mix it with a platter system. The original arc projectors were still there and i set up with naify and turned on! Hope they kept one of them. Found a Italian machine, a cinematica i believe at another theatre.

Laced up a 60 foot screen and found a anamorphic lens to use. An excellent picture.

I built an apartment for myself on the mezzanine, a great place to live.

When the masons moved out the upper two theatres were built.

I repeatedly tried to get steve naify to allow me to bring in spe ial showings of classics, 30s, 40s b&w, series like the thin man, topper etc,saturday serials, newsreels and oneof my favorites The Women. And then have months dedicated to an actor. Would have been so much fun. And ½ price if in period garb.

Jeffreymoffitt on December 22, 2016 at 7:30 am

I know every inch of that building. I’ve cralled between the floors, in the attic and under it in the swamp cooler tube thats fed bu an underground stream. Very inovative. Over the lobby ceiling is the original, is beautiful. When i painted the front i took scrapings of paint from the details, many details were not ever highlighted so we got to bring some more life to her beautiful face. Personalli i never liked the choice of blue as the main base color but i was allowed to do the gold i wanted. We were working on a way to cost effectivly re light the verticle sign. That woulh have been so beautiful. Really loved bringing entertainment to dunsmuir.

These old thestres were the heart of many towns. You got your info with news reels,saw great movies, if there was a stage school preformances, graduation,etc. City awards. So many first dates, first kisses, first loves, romances, A place where you can let your imagination go wild,or get away from your troubles for a couple hours, laugh or cry with your neighbors. I sometimes would sit by myself running a movie i just put together to make sure it was ok and set the sound up, and be so thankful that i was getting a chance to bring that majic and joy to people lives.

Old theatres are special.

Trolleyguy on December 22, 2016 at 7:40 am

This theatre is closed. Phone disconnected, no listings on the web, Facebook page not updated for over a year.

Jeffreymoffitt on December 22, 2016 at 8:06 am

Thats too bad, hopefully someone will make a go of it. At one time i thought a dinner theatre, old movies and great food. Could be fun and turn enough prorit to work.

SnoozeKing on August 23, 2019 at 6:43 pm

My understanding is that this theatre is owned by Mark someone (Juarez? Suarez?), a local guy who owns much of Siskiyou County; I’m told that his many vacant stores are boarded up because it makes good business sense for him to keep his commercial properties shuttered. If so, the California Theatre will not reopen anytime soon. :=(

GaryMeyer on May 10, 2023 at 12:00 am

Here is a 2022 article about the attempt to Landmark the theater.

HogGravynChitlins on February 8, 2024 at 11:53 pm

The owner of this theatre and the residents of Dunsmuir should have a look at what Coos Bay, OR has done with their Egyptian Theatre.

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