Credit: Gary Lee Parks
The Los Gatos Theatre in Los Gatos, CA, closed recently for a complete structural and decorative overhaul. Opened in 1916 as the Strand, later called the Premier, and having been through several remodelings and a 1990 twinning, it was nevertheless Silicon Valley’s oldest operating movie house.
As shown in the photo taken last week by Gary Parks, the vertical sign and marquee fascia of 1941, together with the actual marquee frame from 1916, have been removed for conservation.
The entire interior has been gutted to the bare walls, leaving only the sloping concrete subfloor, ticket lobby terrazzo floor and poster cases, and a section of 1916 tile flooring in the former storefront to the right of the ticket lobby. The original plaster moldings of the auditorium sidewalls–hidden since 1990 by soundfold–are gone, but ornate medallions which capped them were carefully removed, hopefully for reinstallation. Murals from 1941 of Skouras style foliage and urn-tipping nymphs on either side of the stage have vanished with the walls that bore them. Whether or not replicas will be created is unclear from looking at the construction drawings.
A rendering of the very imaginative proposed new facade with the 1941 vertical sign and its companion neon marquee corner elements reinstalled, as well as a full set of plans for the new interior can be seen at www.losgatostheater.com
Newsletter Editor, American Research Center in Egypt, Northern CA Chapter
Author, Theatres of San Jose,
Co-Author, Theatres of the San Francisco Peninsula