In September of 1976, the Castro Theater became the 100th San Francisco Historic Landmark to be named. The honor was bestowed upon this movie palace which has a very rich history. To this very day, the theater provides great entertainment and memories to those who venture through its doors.
The Castro Theater first opened to the public in 1910 in the Castro District in San Francisco. It did not last long at its original location at 479 Castro St. The theater eventually became a retail store and the new location for the theater was open on the same block. The newer version of the Castro Theater was much more opulent than the first version. In 1922, the new theater was crafted in a Spanish Colonial Baroque style. The inspiration for this look was the Mission Dolores basilica located not too far away from the new theater. The basilica had undergone a well publicized renovation and the designer of the Castro, Timothy L. Pflueger, looked to capitalize on such publicity. Pflueger had designed a host of movie theaters in California at the time. One does need to remember, the motion picture industry was in its infancy in the early 1900’s. Hence, the creation of a grand theater was a major event.
On June 22nd, 1922, a screening of the film “Across the Continent” was presented to an invitation-only crowd. The attendees included luminaries such as James Rolph, the mayor of San Francisco at the time. On June 23rd, 1922, the theater opened its doors to the public.
The owners of the theater, the Nasser brothers, also owned quite a number of other lavish movie theaters in the region as well.
The Modern Castro
There are quite a number of different events that occur at the theater. Film festivals and repertory screenings of classic films occur quite often. These events are known for drawing relatively large crowds. The theater is one of the few venues with a 70mm projector allowing it to show classic, original cinemascope presentations of old films. The theater is also the only able to show a 70mm film with accompanying DTS with 5.1 Dolby sound. The most modern of digital film formats are available for digital projection as well.
In 2008, renovations were made to the marquee and the neon lights of the theater. The theater was also repainted. At the time, director Gus Van Sant was filming the biopic “MILK” and the theater needed to be restored to its original pristine condition. When the movie was completed, it made its world premiere at the newly rebuilt theater in November of 2008. All the major stars were there.
Where to Find the Castro
The Castro Theater is located at 429 Castro St. in the historic city of San Francisco, CA. The box office can be reached by calling (415) 621-6120. Those looking for the theater will have a hard time missing the huge neon sign that blares the letters which spell out “CASTRO.”