Beautiful movie palaces of southern California


It’s not quite as ornate as these, but seeing these photos reminds me of the wonderful, still active, Byrd Theater in Richmond, VA. I don’t know if they still do it but back in the day they would have an evening shows on the weekend that were preceded by a grand organ playing (The Mighty Wurlitzer) that would come hissing out of the stage, occasionally accompanied by a gorgeous light show bounced off a colossal chandelier…


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The majority of the pics are from NorCal. The top pic is from Oakland.

just sayin’. Bay Area pride and that.



Love these restored movie palaces! I was lucky enough to head up two 1928 (architect) John Eberson theatres in Ohio, still beautiful and operating today: The Palace Theatre in Marion, and the Renaissance Theatre (formerly the Ohio Theatre) in Mansfield. Both also feature a “Mighty Wurlitzer” unit orchestra, or theatre organ. They were called “unit orchestras” because that’s what they did – replaced an entire orchestra, including sound effects like birds, drums, whistles, bells, rain and more!


The queens of these were the Loew’s Wonder Theatres of the NYC area, several of which still survive, and have been restored after being cut up into multiplexes decades ago.

The Jersey City Loews is set to complete reno and open as a concert and event venue. I’ve seen movies and concerts there, it’s an amazing space.

Yep, that’s the “Grand Lake.” They still have a Wurlitzer pipe organ that was used to play musical accompaniment back in the silent movie days, you can hear it in action before some weekend screenings.

Kind of a shame they split the theater into two by converting the balcony area into a second screen, but better an awesome theater with compromised architecture than one which doesn’t bring in enough money to stay in business.

For those who have a moment or would consider helping keep another theater open, please check out

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