Local, alternative perspective. Insightful stories for the Santa Clara Valley.

THE OLD “LOS GATOS THEATRE” GIVES NEW GLIMMER TO SANTA CRUZ AVENUE

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THE OLD “LOS GATOS THEATRE” HAD BEEN PRESERVED OVER THE GENERATIONS, WHEREAS IT RECENTLY UNDERWENT RENOVATION to “REINVIGORATE THE TIRED OLD GEM.” The theater already had its Grand Reopening on May 2, 2014.   It now features a “new-old” design reminiscent of the original theater’s Art Deco trappings combined with modern conveniences and state-of-the-art digital facilities.

See the theater prominently situated, as always, at 41 N. Santa Cruz Avenue.

This theater has been around since 1915, which is just about the beginning of the “movie palace” era, when theaters were built with a certain splendor in their design.   It originally opened as the Strand Theater and was remodeled after a 1929 fire.

That’s how the theatre got its Art Deco look, which the current owners have re-developed with a “retro” style.   But, Los Gatos Theater had an old-style marquee and mural; plus, once-upon-a-time, a Wurlitzer organ that accompanied silent movies.

By the 1940s, it took its current name as “The Los Gatos Theater,” which the current owners are reclaiming, although spelled “Theatre” and not “Theater.”

Many local residents of the south valley probably recall that during the 1980s this theater remained independent and showed old-fashioned movies, the kind of which originated from its actual heyday or thereabouts.  It was a one of the few places in the area that remained a tried-and-true showcase for “movie classics.”  Carmel Cormack, operated under the name Los Gatos Cinema.  She lived above the street-level theater of the building, where she had office space and a living quarters.  Some residents recall her from back then, aside from the following generations.  She apparently struggled after the 1989 earthquake; but, both she and the theater have nevertheless survived through the ages.

Around 1993, Camera Theaters had operated the business; but, the building had not gone for sale, until Cormack’s death.

Camera Theater’s President, Jack NyBlom, noted that Cormack had died earlier in 2011; thereby causing the realization that in late May 2011, the theater was 96 years old and would go for sale for several million dollars (i.e., estimated $3.2 million).  Over the years, it was known originally as a “single” that was turned into a “twin” screen.  The building is nevertheless several thousand square feet in its total capacity.  The new owners have since redesigned it as a two screen, with one street level and the other upstairs.

Today, the price of a ticket is no longer for loose change or even five dollars, but the facility does appear to be quite gracious and state-of-the-art, asking for a ticket price at various prices:

Currently, a matinee ticket is available for a choice of either two films at $7.00.
At 1:15pm, now playing is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with a matinee 3D version sold at $7.00; or $9.00 with 3-D-viewing glasses provided.

Other times are available as follows: $12 adult; $10 student; $8 senior or child.

The other film that’s showing is 22 Jump Street.

By the way, be sure to see the de·Anza Post’s related story about the historic Century 21 Theater in San Jose.  Both these theaters are historic movie treasures, both of which have struggled to survive, be preserved and re-celebrated.

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