1125 Market Street,
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Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
Firms: Reid Brothers
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: American Theatre, Rialto Theatre, Rivoli Opera House, Warner Brothers Theatre
Originally planned to be a vaudeville theatre named Bell Theatre, it was already under construction to the plans of architect the Reid Brothers, when the earthquake and fire of April 1906 hit San Francisco. It finally opened on January 21 1907 as the American Theatre. In 1915 architect Charles Weeks redesigned the foyer and replaced the balcony with one of a shallower angle. It was known as the Rialto Theatre from May 6, 1916, the Rivoli Opera House from October 1, 1922 when light opera was presented. Finally, in 1927, it was remodeled to the plans of architect G. Albert Lansburgh and was renamed the Embassy Theatre. It premiered ‘Vitaphone Talking Pictures’ in San Francisco when John Barrymore in “"When a Man Loves” was the first sound picture to be screened in the city. It soon became known as the Warner Brothers Theatre, but reverted back to Embassy Theatre on August 31, 1933.
Under the management of Dan McLean, it became a popular second-run Market Street venue, with the added nightly attraction of Ten-O-Win, a spin-the-wheel game that McLean originated.
By the 1980’s, Market Street had deteriorated into a haven for the strange and the homeless, and the Embassy Theatre suffered the ignominy of providing a haven for drug dealers, prostitutes, and local crazies.
The Loma Prieta earthquake of October 1989 caused severe structural damage, the building was determined to be uninhabitable and was abandoned. It was torn down in 1994.
As the only theatrical structure to bracket both the 1906 and the 1989 Earthquakes, it holds unique status in the annals of San Francisco history. As an incredibly popular venue for several generations of San Francisco moviegoers, it will long be fondly remembered.
As of late-2012, there were plans to build a 12-story apartment building on the site. In November 2018 it was still an empty plot of land adjacent to the Strand Theatre.
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