Hardy's Theatre

944 Van Ness Street,
Fresno, CA 93721

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Westland Theatres

Architects: William D. Coates, Harrison B. Traver

Styles: Renaissance Revival

Previous Names: Liberty Theatre, Mexico Theatre

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Hardy's Theatre

The Liberty Theatre is the oldest theatre in Fresno, and was built in 1917, opening on on November 27, 1917 with William Farnham in “When a Man Sees Red”. Designed in Second Empire Revival style by local architects W.D. Coates and H.B. Traver, responsible for Fresno and other California landmarks. It was renamed Hardy’s Theatre from June 24, 1931.

By 1950 it was operated by Westland Theatres chain out of San Francisco. The 1950’s marquee of the theatre, whose exterior is remarkably well preserved, shows a later name, Hardy’s Theatre, while a large vertical sign displays the name MEXICO (Since the summer of 2005 this sign has been removed). The theatre was still open in 1981.

Fresno for a town its size has so many classic theatres that one could spend a half a day looking at them. Some others are Warnor’s Theatre, the Wilson Theatre, the Crest Theatre, the Tower Theatre and the Azteca Theatre.

In 2001 the city of Fresno began plans for a massive downtown revitalization but it is unknown what role the Liberty Theatre, which is on the Local Register of Historic Resources, will play. It had been in use as a Spanish Evangelical Church prior to 2005. They had vacated the building by early-2023 and it stands unused.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 46 comments)

dansdriveintheater on December 3, 2018 at 6:56 pm

was still open in 1981


please update!

terrywade on October 23, 2019 at 4:44 am

Now a music studio Oct 2019. I hope some one saved the old classic theatre neon marquee sign that said Hardy’s?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 24, 2019 at 3:55 am

This house should be listed as Hardy’s Theatre, since it was called the Liberty only from 1917 to 1931.

authorchristopherstone on February 19, 2020 at 9:10 pm

I literally saw hundreds of movies at the Hardys Theatre during the1950s and 1960s. “Everything from "Love Me Or Leave Me,” and “Some Like It Hot,” to “Tom Thumb,” “West Side Story,” “The King of Kings,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

RogerC on August 16, 2020 at 10:14 pm

I would be curious to verify the original seating capacity of 1917. Some claim it was closer to 2000. Over the years the capacity shrunk. The insanely high and steep upper third of the balcony was sealed off. Projection booth always on the main floor so there were no “keystoning” issues with the screen image. The 1950s remodel with “Rocking Chair Loges” in the rear orchestra also reduced capacity. But in the 50s it was the most comfortable movie seat in Fresno. Another remodel in the 60s expanded the lobby and snack bar and finally added rest rooms on the main floor.

mikehume on November 28, 2021 at 3:27 am

There is a 3-minute video tour of the theatre, filmed in 2011, here on YouTube.

mikehume on November 28, 2021 at 3:32 am

It was discovered in August 2021 that the theatre’s new owner, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, gutted much of the interior allegedly without permits/permission. According to local newspaper The Fresno Bee “The entire second level was removed — some 1,000 theater seats — to make space for living quarters, along with plaster from the walls and much of the original ornamental work. All that is left is the original stage. The city cited the building’s owner, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, for several code violations, including construction without a permit. The city is meeting this week [early August 2021] to determine next steps, which could involve a work stoppage and additional fines.”

City councilmember Miguel Arias noticed construction work taking place at the building and did not recall any plans or permits. “People were taken back by the significant demolition that has been done. essentially the whole interior has been demolished except for crown molding that’s left,” Arias said.

Whereas the Fresno Bee is behind a paywall, you can read more here on yourcentralvalley.com.

dansdriveintheater on May 13, 2023 at 7:46 am

The church is now closed it appears as the theatre is boarded up! Sad

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