Theatre Visalia

104 S. Court Street,
Visalia, CA 93291

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox Circuit

Firms: Swartz, Hotchin, and Swartz

Previous Names: West Coast Theatre Visalia

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Theatre Visalia

The Theatre Visalia opened in December 1914 and was a conversion of the old Armory building which was built in 1889. It was located on the corner of W. Acequia Avenue and S. Court Street.

Initially owned and operated as an independent by A. Levis, Susman Mitchell and W.R. Spaulding, it was taken over by William Fox in late-1928. By 1st January 1929 the Fox Theatre Visalia was screening ‘talkies’. By then, plans were made to build a new Fox Theatre to replace the existing theatre (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

It was announced in November 1929 that Sunday vaudeville performances would be suspended for a few weeks until the new Visalia Fox Theatre opened. However building work on the new theatre was running slightly behind schedule and it wasn’t until 26th February 1930 that the old Fox Theatre Visalia closed for good. The final film shown was “It’s A Great Life” starring The Duncan Sisters.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

tomdelay on October 4, 2005 at 10:58 pm

Actually, the name of this theatre was Theatre Visalia not Visalia Theatre. The Visalia Theatre name was applied to a much newer theatre on East Main Street and was actually designed by S. Charles Lee. This theatre remains in operation with live theatre and is called the Main Street Theatre.

The Theatre Visalia closed in 1930 when the new Visalia Fox Theatre was opened. It was also immediately demolished and the site remains a parking lot.

The Theatre Visalia contained an ancient 1921 2 manual 9 rank style 210 Wurlitzer that was to have been installed in the new Fox Theatre. However, the new Fox was not yet ready for the organ and the organ was removed and added to by Louis A. Maas of Los Angeles (Maas Organ Company) and reinstalled as a jazzy 10-rank organ with an English Post Horn in the incredible Fox Theatre in Phoenix, AZ.

A small 5 rank Robert Morton was later rebuilt by Maas from a theatre in Santa Monica and installed as a 7 rank organ in the new Visalia Fox.

The rest of Ken Roe’s information above is spot-on.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 5, 2005 at 3:21 am

Southwest Builder and Contractor of July 11, 1914, named the Fresno architectural firm of Swartz, Hotchin and Swartz as those who prepared the plans for remodeling the armory into Theatre Visalia for Spaulding, Mitchell and Levi. An issue of the same magazine from May, 1913, had mentioned two Los Angeles architects as being engaged for the project, but that deal must have fallen through.

MagicLantern on January 12, 2006 at 9:59 pm

Isn’t this a duplicate of this listing?


tomdelay on January 13, 2006 at 12:00 am

No it is not. The Fox Theatre Visalia, or just Theatre Visalia and the 1930 Fox Theatre are two entirely different structures. The Theatre Visalia was taken over by FOX in the late 1920s.

The theatre was a converted armory and the poor old thing looked like it. Fox wanted a bigger and better building in Visalia and built the “new” Fox, the present Fox in circa 1930. When the new theatre opened, the old Theatre Visalia was demolished. Its site is still a parking lot.

This entry should really only say “Theatre Visalia” NOT Fox Theatre Visalia as there was the present Fox and a much later Visalia Theatre. This entry here is for the Theatre Visalia.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 13, 2006 at 4:31 am

The similar names of Visalia’s theatres has caused a lot of confusion. It should be noted that the photo to which ken mc linked in his comment of Oct 28, above, does not depict the Theatre Visalia, but rather the 1930 Fox Visalia Theatre to which Magic Lantern linked in his comment of Jan 12.

Ronda on June 17, 2006 at 3:46 am

May please you give me the exact number of old address on Acequia Ave and Court St. I need to know where it exactly was there…

Please you respond my comment. Thank you for be patient and cooperate with me today.

beckylord on January 5, 2008 at 3:50 pm

I have a small calendar from 1923 that has a picture of a woman by the name of Mae Allison. On the bottom of the calendar it say’s Theatre Visalia,Tulare County Leading Playhouse. Does anyone know anything about Mae Allison?

Please let me know. Thank-you

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