Back in the 1930s, an avenue near our house was graced by a gorgeous art deco movie house. It closed its doors in the 1960s and became a furniture warehouse. The marquee was nuked, and the entrance stripped down. We never thought much of it. In 2001, the building went back on the market, and locals found, to their amazement, that all of the original deco murals and mirrors inside had survived.
Around the time we bought our house, citizens organized a group to manage restoration of the theater, and we’ve been eagerly awaiting its re-opening. We don’t have any theater in El Cerrito, and the new owners also run a groovy theater in Oakland with couches in place of chairs, beer and pizza (ushers bring food right to your couch). Plans for this theater are similar.
We’ve been watching the slow construction of the marquee mount, architected from old photos. and this week the crowning jewel arrived from the manufacturer – the new marquee, exactly like the original.
Now we just need time to go to movies — and a cheap babysitter — and we’ll be all set.
One of our students did a multimedia piece on the restoration a few years ago — great resource for additional history and interviews with people who remember the the heyday.