Alcazar Theatre

260 O'Farrell Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres

Architects: Harry L. Cunningham, Matthew V. Politeo

Firms: Cunningham & Politeo

Styles: Moorish

Previous Names: United Nations Theatre

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News About This Theater

Fox United Nations Theatre exterior

The Alcazar Theatre opened in 1911, and soon became one of San Francisco’s leading legitimate theaters, replacing the previous Alcazar Theatre one block to the East, which was destroyed in the earthquake and fire of April 1906.

With the advent of talkies, and the Depression of the 1930’s, the Alcazar Theatre fell on hard times and became a secondary low-price film outlet.

On May 1, 1945, it was used by the United Nations Peace Conference for some of its meetings, and reopened on June 27, 1945 as the United Nations Theatre, operating as a move-over house for the Fox West Coast Circuit.

In 1952 it was renamed the Alcazar Theatre once again, and reverted back to legitimate productions.

It closed on New Years Eve 1961, and was torn down. The Handlery Motor Hotel was soon built on its former site.

Contributed by Tillmany

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

frenchjr25 on July 8, 2007 at 11:39 am

The last theatre to be named the Alcazar still stands, but what was used to show films I am not sure. The bottom floor is a parking garage and the doors to the upstairs do not look like they have been opened in years. It is a nice looking building and it is sad it is in the condition it is in.

seymourcox on October 27, 2007 at 2:31 pm

San Francisco’s one and only atmospheric, the Uptown Theatre, was located on Post at Fillmore, next to the Winter Garden. Several photos listed as the Alcazar on this page are actually those of the Uptown …
Uptown exterior -
View link
Uptown atmospheric auditorium -
View link

Curiously, on CT listings I find no reference to San Franciso’s Uptown

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 7, 2007 at 10:32 pm

There was an Uptown Theatre on Sutter at Steiner which was once called the New Alcazar, according to the San Francisco Theaters, Cinemas, Dancehalls, after 1906 page. I can’t find anything about an Uptown Theatre at Post and Filmore, though.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 7, 2007 at 10:51 pm

I think the recently added Cinema Treasures Uptown Theatre page just got pulled as a duplicate listing of this Alcazar Theatre. In fact I now see that it was the 1907 photo linked there and above on this page by Seymour Cox, and even earlier (January 2005) by Lost Memory which was the duplicate. I think that photo is of the New Alcazar/Republic/Sutter/Uptown, which was on a corner lot. This Alcazar Theatre on O'Farrell Street was on a mid-block lot, as can be seen by the photo provided for this page by frenchjr25.

I’m still not sure about the interior photo Seymour linked to above, but it’s probably the of Uptown.

The question also remains as to which of the two theatres was actually designed by Cunningham & Polito.

The Uptown page can be restored, but with the correct location of Sutter and Steiner, southwest corner.

Tillmany on June 27, 2008 at 4:20 pm

So where is the UPTOWN page? For information and photos, see page 105 of my book, THEATRES OF SAN FRANCISCO.

kencmcintyre on August 16, 2008 at 7:53 pm

This article from last month refers to the Alcazar, but I assume they’re talking about the Uptown, since the Alcazar on this page is long gone.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 26, 2009 at 12:21 am

There’s a misspelling in the architectural firm name at top. Harry L. Cunningham’s partner was named Matthew V. Politeo, not Polito as it currently says.

larrygoldsmith on December 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Gotta love that marquee in above picture!

Ron_Gurich on February 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Those were the days. In 1956-57 my brother and I were ushers at the Alcazar Theatre on O’Farrell Street in San Francisco. I was just 16 at the time and got to see a lot of plays including Anniversary Waltz, Whiteness for the Prosecution, Tea House of the August Moon, The Diary of Anne Frank and many more. I knew every line in the play Anniversary Waltz because it ran for almost a year and of course I knew all the actors too including Marjorie Lord and Mary Jane Saunders. Mary Jane was playing the teenage daughter and was really good. I like her a lot and we uses to go behind the box seats and make-out a little until one day she missed her cue and she was late getting on stage. We both got into trouble for that. Great memories…

rivest266 on August 4, 2018 at 6:40 pm

This opened on May 1st, 1945 as United Nations for those holding conference credentials. It opened to the public on June 27th, 1945. Ads in the photo section.

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