Grand Theatre

141 Pacific Avenue,
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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Additional Info

Nearby Theaters

This theater is listed in the Film Daily Yearbook in the late-1920’s. Reprints of an ad for the Grand Theatre were featured in a historical display exhibited at the Del Mar Theatre at the time of its 2002 Grand Reopening.

More information on this theater would be appreciated.

Contributed by Gary Parks

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

CSWalczak on January 19, 2011 at 6:18 pm

There is a picture of the theater herem c. 1915L

GaryParks on January 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

CWalczac, Thank you so much for linking to those photos!

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on January 21, 2011 at 8:53 am



More info and more photos are always welcome.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm

The diary of Edward E. Prince, who lived in Santa Cruz from June 21, 1910, to December 16, 1911, has entries mentioning the Grand Theatre. He attended the Grand on September 15, 1910, and on January 27 and October 2, 1911. He mentions missing a chance to win a prize of five dollars that was given away by the Grand on December 16, 1910, because he had to work.

The Grand Theatre was listed in the 1916 and 1918 editions of the Western Directory Company’s Santa Cruz County Directory, but was not in the 1921 edition. It apparently reopened for a while later in the 1920s, but didn’t outlive the silent movie era.

GaryParks on February 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Joe—Thanks so much for that glimpse into the Grand’s history.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

I just checked the Santa Cruz directories again, and the Grand is not listed in the 1916 edition. In 1918 it is listed at 280 Pacific Avenue, but in 1916 that address was the address of James Morgan’s hat works. Was the Grand Theatre that Edward Prince attended in 1910 and 1911 in the same location as the one listed in the 1918 directory, or was that a different house?

Also, in the 1921 directory 280 Pacific is the office of real estate agent G. L. Watkins, so the Grand had gone again by then. I’ve checked the FDY’s from the late 1920s (1925 through 1929), as mentioned in our description of the theater, but I don’t find the Grand listed an any of them. Maybe it never reopened after closing sometime between 1918 and 1921. Only the Unique and New Santa Cruz are listed until 1928, when the Cameo makes its first appearance.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 9, 2014 at 3:11 am

The text with the photo CSWalczak linked to in the first comment on this house said that the Grand Theatre was on Pacific Avenue opposite the end of Walnut Avenue, but that conflicts with the address of the Grand in the 1918 city directory, which was 280 Pacific. If the Grand was on the east side of Pacific at Walnut, it would have had an odd number and it would have been in the 100 block, like the Jewel and Princess Theatres, which were both on that block.

Even numbers were on the west side of Pacific under the old system, and 280 would have been some distance south of Lincoln Street. The Unique Theatre was at 199-205 Pacific, just south of Soquel opposite the end of Lincoln Street. I’m not sure just how far south the Grand would have been. It would depend on whether or not the 200 block ended at Cathcart Street or continued south to Elm Street.

However, as I noted in my previous comment, it’s possible that there were two houses called the Grand Theatre in Santa Cruz at different times. If that was the case, then the one in the photo, which was dated circa 1915, must have been the first, and the description of its location would then probably have been accurate.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm

161 Pacific was the address of the Jewel Theatre, listed in the 1916 and 1918 directories. Perhaps the Jewel was originally the Grand, and the name was changed and the Grand moved to 280 Pacific. The Grand in the photo must be the one at 280 Pacific, though, as it had no second and third floors for the Masonic Temple to occupy.

The other explanation would be that the theater at 161 Pacific was never the Grand, but always the Jewel, and the author of the photo’s caption conflated the two theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

A 1979 book called The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture, by John Chase, has the answer. The text of the results of a Google Books search (only a snippet view of the book itself is shown) says of the Masonic Temple Building that “[f]rom 1908 to 1920 the bottom floor housed the Jewel movie theater.” As the Grand was in operation in 1910 and 1911, if 161 Pacific was occupied by the Jewel at that time, The Grand had to have been in the building at 280 Pacific.

Edward Prince mentions in his diary that he attended the Grand on September 15, 1910, and the Jewel on September 29 the same year, and then the Grand again on January 7, 1911.

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