How does Fresno CA try to preserve its historic theaters?


Historic Fresno Theaters have been involved in the community conversation in recent months.

First, there was the intermittent sale of the iconic Tower Theater, which resulted in several legal battles, national commentary and continued Sunday morning protests.

The theatrical operations continued, however, with a tribute to Roy Orbison played on Saturday.

Then there was the Hardy’s Theater, which, just its week ago, became the target of the city’s code enforcement and planning and historic preservation commissions after discovering that the owner had emptied much of the building. inside the building without any supervision or even appropriate authorization.

All of this begs the question, what is the status of other historic Fresno theaters?

Aztec Theater

Built on F Street in Chinatown in 1948, the Aztec Theater is one of three Fresno theaters listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally used as a Spanish language movie theater, with an emphasis on Mexican films. Until it closed in 1980, it was the only place of its kind in town and brought a “steady diet of films shot during the golden age of Mexican cinema.”

He has also featured personal appearances by Mexican movie stars.

The building was vacant for much of the 1980s and 1990s, and efforts to restore the theater have been underway since the early 2000s. As of 2019, the venue was in use as a concert hall.

A rap concert is scheduled for September 4, according to the theater’s Facebook page


HIDDEN GEM: The Crest Theater, located at 1170 Broadway St. in downtown Fresno, now shows classic movies. JEAN WALKER [email protected]

Theater of the Crest

The Crête Theater might be Fresno’s most iconic.

Built in 1949 and operated by Fox West Coast Theaters, the art deco building is on Fresno Street, right next to the old Fulton Mall. It’s a little less visible than the Tower Theater, despite having a 15-meter-high sign, which represents “some of the most elaborate examples of commercial neon work in Fresno.”

The old cinema had been rented to a church for several years, but returned to a performance hall in the 2000s and hosted many concerts, including Rob Zombie in 2011.

Before the pandemic, the theater was known to show classic and cult movies.

Warnor Theater

The Warnors Theater (or Warner’s Theater, or Pantages) could arguably be the most important of Fresno’s remaining historic theaters. Especially for music fans.

It opened in 1928 as a Pantages theater hosting vaudeville acts and equipped with a unique Robert Morton pipe organ (still functional). A year later, the theater was sold to Warner Brothers and became the company’s second theater on the entire West Coast.

The Warnor changed its name in 1960, replacing the E with an O.

The building was avoided from becoming a parking lot by the Caglia family in the 1970s and found a niche as a serious concert hall. It hosted performances both inside the theater and in a smaller hall on the second floor. In its heyday, the theater hosted everyone from AC / DC and a young REM to Miles Davis and the Clashes. In 2018, the theater hosted a three-night reunion for Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

The theater currently operates as a non-profit performing arts organization.

He recently expanded its board of directors and is working on reopening the complex’s three performance venues – the Theater, Frank’s Place and the Star Palace. Frank’s Place was open with live music for the August Art Hop event on Thursday.

The rest of the complex, which occupies a full block in Fulton and Tuolumne, rents space from several hip retailers, including Root, Scraps and Fulton Street Coffee.

Pastor Jim Franklin of Cornerstone Church stands in the church auditorium before announcing the installation of several units of dry hydrogen peroxide, or DHP, at the church in downtown Fresno on Wednesday 10 March 2021. Franklin says the patented technology will permanently clean the air of potential coronavirus microbes as well as fight all other viruses, bacteria, mold, odors and even insects. CRAIG KOHLRUSS [email protected]

Wilson Theater

Located just down the block in Fulton and Stanislaus, Wilson theater also served as a popular music venue, although it functioned as a movie theater for most of its life and is now a church.

It also opened as a vaudeville house in 1926 and first became a movie theater – Fox Wilson Theater – in 1932.

It operated in this way until the 1970s.

The venue was used for live music for much of the early to mid-1990s, welcoming mostly rock and metal bands like Danzig, Pantera and Tool. The latter gave the last concert of the theater in 1996.

The theater was taken over by Cornerstone Church, which uses the space for weekly services and other events. The church has been a good steward of the historical hallmarks of the theater, including the illuminated marquee.

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Joshua Tehee covers the latest news for The Fresno Bee, writing on a wide range of topics from law enforcement, politics and weather, to the arts and entertainment in the Central Valley.

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