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.
5 Replies to “Marquee Comes Home”
We’ve got one of those in Arlington, Va!
Official name: Arlington Cinema N’ Draft House.
Unofficial name: The Drinkin’ Theatre.
From the fax: What is the Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse? The Drafthouse is a historic 1930’s Art Deco Theater that has been converted into a comfortable unique restaurant/theater with comfortable chairs and table side service. We offer a full restaurant menu including appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts and of course popcorn. In addition to great food we offer a full service bar including beer, wine and mixed drinks. Our seating are large comfortable leather chairs. Every seat has access to a table or counter inside the theater! Yes our restaurant is inside the theater space with each seat having a great view of the action. Best of all – for most of our events we offer table side service inside the theater/restaurant.
Couldn’t find any photos on their website, but flickr to the rescue:
I hope pieces of this kind of Americana continue to return. I love it! Some special parts of PA and VA still have drive in theatres, walk-up food/frozen custard stands, and drive-up burger joints. I love this stuff…
They added a beautiful art-deco marquee to the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline a few years ago…
Ah, great memories of The Coolidge. The marquee looks like a nice addition. Do they still do silent movies with a live organist?
Hey, how’d ya do that? Hmmm… we’ve got this former UC theater here in Berkeley and, anyway, a recent and depressing spate of theater closings….
Thomas – Hopefully the fact that Berkeley has an overabundance of theaters while El Cerrito has none will make all the difference in sustainability.