Comments from trainmaster

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trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Apr 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I take it you are referring to the Paramount Theater tours.

For ONLY $3.00, on the first and third Saturdays, you get an cmplete tour of the Paramount. It lasts about two hours and you are shown
the entire theater. What a bargain!!!!!!

For $17.00 (according to the 2011 edition of the AAA New York tour guide book), you get a one-hour tour of the Radio City Music Hall.
That place is easily twice the size of the Paramount, and 1-hour hardly covers the place.

You won’t regret taking a tour of the Paramount. More than likely, you will want to take it again and again.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Apr 15, 2011 at 7:38 am

Very interesting information – so you are saying the architects could override the acoustical engineers' designs? I would think the former would know more about that subject, but would explain the poor sound and redesigning. I am interested in acoustics, and it seems like a lost art because everyone depends on high powered amplification these days.

Theaters had to have powerful sounding walls because the power then was less than 25 watts – “The Voice Of The Theater” speaker system was so efficient, a hand-held scnner could drive those horn speakers, and the theater walls amplified the sound for the auditorium, which would echo to allow the sound waves to reach the patrons in the rear. Today, the method is different.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Apr 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I have in my collection, every article published about the Fox Oakland commencing with the original Oakland Tribune article published on October 26, 1926 about the grand opening. (This is the 2nd Fox Oakland Theater for Oakland).

The ONLY reason the Fox Oakland is still standing today is that on January 25, 1978, Mrs. Erma DeLUCCHI made a high bid of $340K competing with a firm which wanted to demolish the theater for a more lucrative operation. Mrs. Delucchi met her husband at the Fox, and planned to renovate the theater to operating condition and re-open it. Her husband passed away a short time later and she lost interest in the project, and simply collected the rents from the tenants in the building.

The City Of Oakland used the power of Eminent domain to purchase the theater from the Delucchi family for a much higher price and it finally reopened a couple of years ago.

You are correct about the Oakland Symphony purchasing the Paramount and the City of Oakland taking over the operations later. Oakland learned from San Francisco’s loss.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Apr 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm

IF the Davies Symphony Hall had far superior acoustics then either the S.F. Fox or the Oakland Paramount, why did the City of San Francisco, i.e. taxpayers, spend a fortune making corrections????

Certainly, you are not going to post that the acoustics in Davies Sympony Hall compares with Boston Symphony Hall.

The art of acoustic designing is lost today because of the vast power of amplification available, which did not exist when either the Oakland Paramound or S.F. Fox existed. Those palaces had to depend on no more than 25 watts or less of power and used sounding boards to amplify the signal so it could be heard throughout the theater.

When designing the finest concert halls, way before amplifer power was available, architects and acoustical engineers had to find ways of being sure the sound of the orchestra was carried well throughout the auditorium.

Since Davies opened long after the art of acoustic designs was lost,
they had a significant problem with sound. So did Avery Fisher Hall in NYC. Like Davies, it was corrected, to a far more extent then
Davies. Both places are acceptable now, but not outstanding.
Boston Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall are vastly superior acoustic-wise, and there is a reason for that.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Apr 10, 2011 at 7:14 am

NY saved one palace – the Radio City Music Hall, but that theater came so close to demolition in 1979. It is safe and had a complete restoration, just like the Paramount did.

Oakland learned their lesson of the value of these movie palaces from the expense and loss of the San Francisco Fox. That city would have saved millions if they must purchased the building for $1 million; the theater had excellet acoustics, could accomodate conventions and symphony concerts. The Fox’s acoustics were certainly superior to Louis M. Davis Symphony Hall, of which the city spend millions to build, and more millions to correct the poor
acoustics. Then, they spent millions on the George Moscone Convention Center. The Fox could have performed all those functions.

Oakland learned a good lesson at San Francisco’s expense.


trainmaster commented about SunValley Cinema I & II on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:49 am

Mr. Frentzen’s statement needs correction.

The Sun Valley Cinema opened, with the mall, in 1965 as a single screen and remained so until the late 1970’s, when it was twinned.
I must have seen “American Graffiti” there on 26 separate paid admissions, not to mention sitting through 2 or 3 showings, then to home and play “oldies” records (the last scene in Graffiti was filmed in Concord). There was that nice, huge single 235:1 widescreen. In my opinion, it was ruined when it was twinned.

The theater closed, not because of dwindling crowds, but because management at the mall refused to renew their lease. The Sun Valley Cinema was not the only place to go; the ice skating rink, Walgreens, and all those “food eating” places across from the theater were ordered out as well.

The management of the mall wanted a more “posh” appearance, so those places were deemed not to be up to the new management’s standards.
Thus, they were out when their lease ended!

trainmaster commented about Showcase Theater on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:42 am

Julia G:

Having lived in Concord for over 55+ years, having moved away in 1995, but still come there often, I can tell you MONEY influences the Concord City Council. You ask “what kind of place would allow a porn theater in its historic square? Actually, city approval was not necessary. The United States Supreme Court upheld the right to show porn movies, and the city’s hands were tied.

About the only historic places left in downtown Concord are across Totos Santos Park where the Old Spaghetti Factory is on Mt. Diablo Street. Across Salvio, Mt. Diablo has some interesting old buildings on the left-hand side. The right hand side was the site of the first movie theater in Concord, before the Enean was built.
To reiterate, the Enean exterior is still owned by the First Presbyterian Church. The Pittsburg Enean, owned by the Enea brothers and closed long before the Concord location, is being rennovated to open as a regular theater again. The former Fox Concord (which helped the demise of the Enean, now a gym) sits on property owned by the Enea Brothers -they decided to change from theater operators to real estate investors in the 1960’s. They also bought the Capri in Concord and tried theater business again, in the 1990’s, but that failed, so the Capri is once again closed. (May be gone by now – it was the former J.C. Penny building, built in 1957).


trainmaster commented about Showcase Theater on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:32 am

I WISH this site would change the name of “SHOWCASE” to the “Enean."
It opened in 1938 under this name, the Enea brothers decided to get out of the theater business in 1968 and a new operator took over and, due to the competition of new theaters in the area which did have true 235:1 widescreens, much of the beautiful woodwork by the curtain and the "Fitzpatrick Chevrolet” clock were torn apart to accomodate a 235:1 widescreen. The patchwork was covered up with curtains, as it was in many theaters (like the Stamm in Antioch) which didn’t have the room in the original design for 235:1). The name was changed to “The Showcase,” and regular movies flopped.

Porno entered the scene at the former Enean, as it did to many other great movie houses in their last days, but the building was still owned by the Enea Brothers. Because the building owners had a good relationship with First Presbyterian Church, right behind the theater, the Enea brothers gave the church first bid to buy the building, as the brothers intended to get rid of the property. The church did, only as I said above, to find itself in an iron-clad lease by the porno operators until 1985. It was at that time that the theater closed for good – I took photos of it then and in the 1950’s and the church converted it into a community center (more like a glorified gymn). That failed and now the church rents the building out to a Korean church.


trainmaster commented about Northpoint Theatre on Feb 15, 2011 at 11:39 am

Here are some interior shows of the Northpoint.

The pictures are of “fair” quality, except for the audiitorium interior, which was poor.

These were taken after the theater was closed in 1997 and before the interior was gutted for retail use.


trainmaster commented about Northpoint Theatre on Feb 15, 2011 at 6:12 am

In reference to the questions raised about the shooting of “ZODIAC” at the Northpoint by T.J. and JBryan:

I took a very close look at the “Zodiac” movie last night. The Northpoint appears at approximately 1-hour and 35 minutes into the film.

The exterior is definately the Northpoint. However, the Marquee was reconstructed with errors. For one thing, as you look at the two photos on this site:

View link

You will notice that the Marquee in the photos faced both Powell and Bay Streets. In addition, there was no large black band with “Northpoint” at the top and another black band at the bottom with “Theater.” The entire name was at the top.

You will notice in the early photo, before the theater had its grand opening, the glass was tinted so no one could see into the lobby from the outside. In the Fincher film, this part is overlooked, and the lights used in his film were not the ones in the real Northpoint.

As far as the interior is concerned, it was gutted when the theater closed. The real Northpoint did not have side wall curtains extending from the screen to the entrance. Another single-screen operating theater, probably in the L.A. area, was substituted for the audience shots.


trainmaster commented about El Rey Theatre on Feb 5, 2011 at 6:18 am

The El Rey was operated by the Bloomburg Brothers along with the Oaks in Berkeley, the Cerrito in El Cerrito and a Drive-In theater in San Rafael.

I don’t know when the El Rey was sold. I have an idea that the marquee was demolished in the remodling which took place in the mid-1970’s, as I attended a showing of “First Love” starring Susan Dey
in 1977 and the front was altered. They wanted a larger lobby, like the Enean in Concord. Fortunately, the auditorium was left intact -
they already had a widescreen installed.

The City of Walnut Creek wanted that whole block for its new city hall and other buildings, so it was curtains for the El Rey. It was destroyed by the bulldozers about 9 years after the Creamery and Greyhoud Bus Station. Today, Walnut Creek hardly looks like it did even some 38-40 years ago.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Feb 3, 2011 at 6:02 am

I think you misunderstood my statement…..

I was not suggesting removing the current organ in the Paramount..

I just threw out the idea of the possibility of purchasing the original Paramount organ for the FOX OAKLAND theater, which does not have an organ. At $200,000, the price is very reasonable.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Feb 2, 2011 at 5:29 am

there aren’t many theatres quite like the Paramount!

Oh, there were….The Capitol in New York, the New York Paramount, The San Francisco Fox and probably the most opulent of all, the New York Roxy. (All demolished)

For Art Deco theaters (ones in Moderne design like the Oakland Paramount), I don’t think anything surpasses Radio City Music Hall. They have the Mightest Wurlitzer in the world! The Oakland Paramount is certainly fantastic, don’t get me wrong and one of the finest art deco palaces, but it does not quite compare to the 6200-seat RCHM. The Paramount in Oakland has a 65-foot widescreen, a huge size in itself, but RCMH has a 130-foot widescreen, the largest ever!
I have been to all of the above theaters. RCMH has daily tours now – I saw a number of movies there and a few at the NY Roxy.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Feb 2, 2011 at 5:23 am

The ex-Paramount organ may soon be on the market as the restaurant that housed it is closing. Sarasota Herald-Tribune story ….

Maybe it can be obtained for the Fox Oakland.

trainmaster commented about Cine 3 on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:38 am

Thank you…..

Stadium seating is what I meant – the Orinda Theater has it, the Stamm had it as well as the Denver, the Enean in Concord and plenty of others.

Just by looking at the structer, it seems that there was stadium seating.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:29 am

The only problem with photos on Lost Memory is that they don’t stay there very long. Kirk, if the photo is there, fine, but if not, just refer to my post about the marquee. By the way, all photos of the original marquee are in black and white. Yes, the original marquee had neon lights!

To reiterate, the old marquee was designed by the original architect, Timothy L. Pflueger, and I doubt he would have approved the present one (he is long deceased). The original was designed to match the theater’s moderne design.


trainmaster commented about Cine 3 on Jan 31, 2011 at 12:22 am

Thank you, Mr. Vogel.

Do you know if that theater had a balcony?


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Jan 31, 2011 at 12:15 am

If you are brave enough to send your e-mail address to me at (), I can send you photos of the original marquee as well as the present one. I really prefer the original marquee as it was designed by Pfleuger to go with the theater.

By the way, the second Fox-Oakland, on Telegraph Avenue, also had
a different marquee from 1928 to the 1940’s and it was remodeled with more chrome and a different marquee. I can include photos of those if you like.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Jan 29, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Speaking of theater lobbys, be sure to include the Roxy Rotunda in New York as well as the Radio City Music Hall as ones to be admired.


trainmaster commented about Paramount Theatre on Jan 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I wish the original marquee could be re-constructed. Since so much money was spent to restore the theater to it’s prestine 1930 condition, it would be nice to bring back a restored original marquee, since the original was demolished in 1965 during the building of the 19th street Bart station!


trainmaster commented about Cine 3 on Jan 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Ditto on the photos – especially interior ones.

I have a 1957 photo of the theater, which was still open at the time.

Just from looking at the size of the exterior, I believe it held more than 575 seats. There must have been a balcony.


trainmaster commented about Festival Cinema Center 5 on Dec 20, 2010 at 5:23 am

Having been a former “real” projectionist, which required union membership, and apprenticeship when carbon-arch projection was the main source of the single screen theater, I hated (and still do)the multiplex theatre-type of operation.

But of all the “bird cages” that were built, I must say the Festival in Walnut Creek was, at least, the nicest of all that I have seen.
I remember the arcade booth upstairs. I believe the same company opened the Regency in Pleasant Hill. These two multiplexs were very nice for that type of operation, but if you saw the Roxy Theater in New York, or the Fox Theater San Francisco, or the Radio City Music Hall, you will know what I mean by the term “bird cages.” I even used to call the Enean (Concord) and El Rey (Walnut Creek) Theaters “fly traps” compared to the large monster theaters, but the suburban theaters had a nice intimate atmosphere. The Orinda is a fine example of a gem.

The Festival could not last for the same reason the single screens disappeared – first, there was “twinning” – converting a single screen into two auditoriums….then the “four-plex” and along came the Festival (done in good taste)……movie distributors simply
sought out the larger complexes and ignored the smaller ones.

Now, they are tearing down 12 to 16 multiplexes in favor of larger ones. I certainly do not care for today’s designs and colors of
these new “broom closets.”

At least, the Walnut Creek Festival had taste in designs!

trainmaster commented about Tower Theater on May 22, 2009 at 6:11 am

Does ANYONE in Santa Rosa remember the 20th Century West Theater at 1630 Range Avenue? The Kaiser Permanente Center is nearby today.
Was it torn down? I know it existed because I took pictures of it in 1966 and called the Sonoma Country Library today and got the address from a 1966 phone book? I hope someone replies.

trainmaster commented about Fox Phoenix Theatre on Mar 1, 2009 at 9:00 am

From the pictures, the Fox Phoenix was a beautiful theater which could have been saved! The officials of Phoenix belong in the same catagory as the 1962 City Commission of San Francisco, which lost the greatest theater of all time – the San Francisco Fox – those idots were offered the theater FOR FREE if they just purchase the property. It could have been used for a performing arts center or home of the S.F. Symphony. $1 million dollars – the city thought it was too much! Some ten years later, the city spent over $60,000 for building the Davis Symphony Hall and another 40+ million for building the George Moscone Convention Center – neither facility had the seating capacity of the Fox (5000+). Then in the 1990’s, S.F. had to spend ANOTHER $20 million to fix the acoustics of Davis Symphony Hall; the S.F. Fox was in great shape and had excellent acoustics. Let’s see, $1 million for the Fox versus about $150 for these pieces of junk – what is wrong with S.F.

Phoenix should take a lesson from Oakland (which learned from S.F.’s mistake). When the 4000 seat Oakland Paramount was scheduled to be sold and torn down for a parking lot, the Oakland Symphony jumped in and bought the theater for the same $1 million asking price (which Mann Theaters donated half the cost-same offer as to S.F.) and another $1 million was raised to restore the theater to its glory.
The Oakland Symphony went bankrupt and the City of Oakland took over the operations of the Paramount. Today, it has a large endowment fund.

Another Cinderalla story features another great Oakland palace, the Fox Oakland. Built in 1928 and slightly larger than the Paramount, the Fox closed in 1966. In 1973, an arson fire was set; the insurance fixed the theater. Mann theaters had an auction in 1977 to sell the theaters to a developer to tear it down – it looked like the end for the Fox Oakland! Then, a wealthy elderly woman appeared at the auction and offered the highest bid – she wanted to save the theater because it was where she and her husband met and dated. The
building was sold to Erma Deluchi for $300,000. A few months later, her husband passed away and she lost all interest in rennovating the Fox and re-opening it. Looks like the Fox Oakland was doomed, again.
Question was, when would it be torn down?

Then the City of Oakland planned a revitilization program of its downtown area and need the Fox for performing arts and other venues (the Fox had the deepest state of any bay area place) and they also envisioned opera visiting the Fox. They used eminant domain to purchase the Fox for $3 billion from the Deluchi family. The problem then was the renovation cost – another fire had gutted the floor, the roof was shot and mushrooms were growing inside the sadly delapidated theater. Friends of the Fox Oakland (FOOF) was formed, and the funds were raised – it cost over $60 million to restore the Fox. It re-opened as a theater/performing arts center on February 5, 2009. Below are links to pictures of both theaters….

FOX OAKLAND: Friends of Fox Oakland

And the beautiful art deco Paramount, considered the finest in the nation:

View link

Charles S. Lee designed the Fox Phoniex. His most famous theater is the Los Angeles Theater, which he copied after the San Francisco Fox.
Although the Los Angeles is spectacular, it did not compare with the San Francisco Fox – Lee did not have the Fox money to spend. The loss of the Fox San Francisco, the New York Roxy and the Mastbaum in Philadelphia are the tragic loss of 3 of the top theaters in the country.

PHONIEX – take a lesson from Oakland!

trainmaster commented about Stamm Theatre on Aug 14, 2008 at 8:18 am


During the early 1990’s when the Stamm was in its last days, I tried to photograph the interior. The owner would NOT give permission, stating they would take pictures before the interior was gutted. I checked back and they never did. Dealing with the Stamm family was the only difficulty I had in photographing theater interior.

Does anyone have an interior shot (NOT exterior – I have plenty of those) of the Stamm? If so, would you kindly reply and post it?