El Campanil Theatre

602 W. Second Street,
Antioch, CA 94509

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Related Websites

El Campanil Theatre Preservation Foundation (Official)

Additional Info

Architects: Norman Coulter

Functions: Movies (Classic), Performing Arts

Styles: Spanish Colonial, Spanish Gothic

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 925.757.1366
Manager: 925.757.9500

Nearby Theaters

El Campanil in 2010

When it opened on November 1, 1928, the El Campanil Theatre served as a venue for both vaudeville and movies. It was built at a cost of $500,000. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 2 manual 6 ranks organ. Among the performers to appear at the theatre were Roy Rogers, Mary Pickford, Sally Rand, and Donald O'Connor.

Its Spanish Colonial/Spanish Gothic style facade was unusual because as the theatre’s name suggests, it had three archways, each with a bell inside it, with the largest arch and bell being in the middle over the main entrance, three stories up. The auditorium still has its original ornate painting and Moorish chandeliers and wall sconces. The dressing rooms are adorned with hundreds of autographs that date back to the theatre’s opening.

After decades serving as a movie house, the Campanil Theatre closed, but later was reopened, serving as a church. The theatre was purchased by a non-profit foundation in 2003 and it reopened as a performing arts center on July 4, 2004.

Contributed by David Brink, Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

kathie on September 11, 2004 at 5:32 pm

This theatre is reopen and beautiful! Debbie Reynolds will be appearing October 9th, 2004! A series of productions by Playhouse West is scheduled. Currently classic movies are shown one weekend a month. Visit the website @ www.elcampaniltheatre.com

Marcy on October 11, 2004 at 6:49 pm

The team responsible for renovating and preserving the theatre deserves a huge applause. Not only did we enjoy the Debbie Reynolds show held there, but the theatre was as lovely and charming as my mother used to describe, as it was THEE place to go when she was a young girl. Thank you so much for allowing us “youngsters” to marvel in some of Antioch’s great history.

tomdelay on May 2, 2006 at 9:06 am

I am not sure what ‘cosmic’ is talking about above. The El Campanile had a 2 manual 6 rank style 165 Wurlitzer that was installed when the theatre opened.

After leaving the El Camp,the organ went to an Oakland area nightclub known as 615 Club where it was played for dancing by
the late Dave Quinlan.

When the 615 was closed, the organ was moved to Rudy’s Supper Club in Vallejo where it contineud to play for many years, again played by Dave Quinlan.

Due to the vintage of the organ (1928), the organ was equipped with “black cap” [electro] magnets to actuate the switching and pipe valves. These magnets are often prone to failure, but are easy to replace.

Sadly, an electronic organ sales effort got the Supper Club to dump the pipe organ because it “was in bad shape” and the club hauled in some sort of electronic organ and sold the pipe organ. The pipe organ was broken up for parts and no longer exists. Some parts were used in the composite Wurlitzer in the Fox Theatre in Hanford, CA (which is now, misguidedly, about to be replaced with another composite organ with none of the quality of the organ presently installed.)

bago1 on April 15, 2009 at 11:23 am

i been to this theater twice to see 2 really good shows in late 2007 i seen a mexican folk band from richmond ca called Los Cenzontles and they rocked the house and in march of 2008 i seen another very good band from los angeles called mariachi divas they played to a sold out Audience and also rocked the crown i had such a good time .
but as a theater it has that classic charm i really enjoyed this place i’m glad this cinema gem was restored …..

Campanil on February 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

When the theatre was “rehabilitated” in 2004, the stage was extended, new lighting, sound, marquee and 700 new (vintage style) seats were installed.
Visit the website at: www.elcampaniltheatre.com

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm

A few 2011 photos can be seen here and here.

CSWalczak on August 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm

There are five photos of this theater on this webpage; clicking on them will enlarge the thumbnails.

Bill H
Bill H on January 24, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Also see article written when theater was new, see Motion Picture News (Jan – March 1929). Look up February 2, 1929 issue on pages 306 – 307 !!

Ron Pierce
Ron Pierce on March 11, 2024 at 1:15 am

Built by Ferd Stamm with Norman Coulter as the architect according to the December 25, 1927, article in the Oakland Tribune. The El Campanil location in the story is confirmed by location at 2nd and G Streets. See news clipping in photo section.

From the city of Antioch: Opened November 1, 1928. “Here stands Antioch’s magnificent art deco theatre, the El Campanil Theatre, which opened on November 1, 1928, to great fanfare, including an automobile parade. The builders of the Casino Theatre, Ferd Stamm and Ralph Beede, also built the El Campanil, at a cost of half a million dollars. The Casino could only handle single reel silent films, but the state of the art new theatre could handle multi-reel films. Within a year, however, Stamm and Beede invested in the equipment to handle talkies. Like the Casino, the theatre presented vaudeville.”

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