Lorenzo Theatre

16080 Hesparian Boulevard,
San Lorenzo, CA 94580

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Showing 22 comments

walterk on October 23, 2020 at 7:27 pm

Video on the 5pm news show the fire at the back of the auditorium, so hopefully further damage to the murals will be minimal.

TJinSF on October 23, 2020 at 6:08 pm


The theatre is burning again today. Stabilization work has been ongoing since the June 5 fire as new operators (Matt Delima and Kris Dorrance) had been engaged prior to that date. No word released on the case of that fire, and nothing yet known about today’s, but I hope this will not be the end of the story.

terrywade on June 8, 2020 at 7:58 pm

You never know about classic theatres that burn. They may have some fire insurance money to at least save the front Lorenzo neon tower sign plus the box office & marquee. The inside black light cement walls could be saved and cleaned up. A brand new 6 plex movie theatre with state help feed money along with a new movie/entertainment operator may be interested in taking over the project and building inside the former Lorenzo walls? Time for Live Nation or the guys that run the Fox Oakland to get involved to bring music/movies and live events to to Lorenzo Theatre.

markp on June 7, 2020 at 6:44 pm

walterk, looks like its a goner. Shame to because it looked like a nice theatre.

walterk on June 7, 2020 at 3:52 pm

The fire was declared out around 9pm, 3 ½ hours after the first alarm was called in, a crew stayed overnight to watch for any hotspots that flared up. I went by yesterday morning and took a few pictures, a couple of which are now on the photo page. Damage was severe, an article from one of the area newspapers can be read here.

While the two pictures I posted are of the exterior, the Alameda County Fire Department posted four pictures of the damaged auditorium on their twitter account, which can be viewed here.

Starfire on September 20, 2015 at 4:00 am

Hi Diane, I’m Chris, and I and Lily started the cast RKO at the Lorenzo in November 1979.

We were the second cast in Nor Cal that I know of, not the first. Double Feature at the Strand in SF had started in, I think, 78. One of my friends played Riff in that cast and I joined as a Transylvania the summer of 79, just for the summer.

The first time Rocky showed at the Lorenzo was the weekend after Halloween in 1979. I approached Dan, the manager, and he (with great hesitation) agreed to let us form a group there. By the following June we were a cast of 6: me, Lily, Jerri, Kevin, Joey, and Terri. Later in the summer our cast got much larger.

I’ve seen this article quoted multiple places; could you perhaps correct that claim?



GaryParks on October 31, 2014 at 12:56 am

Having heard Jack Tillmany’s stories of the Lorenzo under his tenure from the source, it is clear that Jack actually made a lot more money than he supposedly lost by not admitting kids under 16 without a parent. At the time he took the operation of the place over from UATC, it was a haven for wild teens and younger kids. Adults, by and large, had ceased going there. It had become, essentially, a babysitting facility. The doors had been removed from the bathroom stalls to keep kids from smoking in them. Once Jack started his policy, he put the doors back on the stalls, gave the place a thorough cleaning, and, since he had good dealings with distributors, got films with huge appeal—revivals, and titles that were more recent, but were favorites with proven track records. He would advertise as having Exclusive Bay Area Showings, and, indeed—it being the era before video, he did a fantastic business. People literally came from all over the Bay Area to the Lorenzo, because they knew they would experience good presentation in a clean, comfortable, and well-behaved atmosphere. NOTE: The photo of the vertical sign tower and marquee I posted is scanned from a slide I took in Summer, 1984, when the theatre sat closed.

JohnMessick on January 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Anything happening at the Lorenzo?

TLSLOEWS on July 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Nice looking theatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 3, 2010 at 10:17 am

Funny thing seat slashing must be a California thing. Worked in five theatres 2 single screens, 1 twin,1 triple and one Quad,and that is a lot of seats .but you know in the seven or eight years i worked in a theatre I can’t remember anyone ever slashing a seat.Sad comment a theatre owner had policy no kids under 16 without parents,bet he lost a ton of money.I bet the real truth was he didn’t want a bunch of kids running crazy in this theatre!

KMchan on May 27, 2010 at 9:35 pm

The Alameda County Redevelopment Department is now the owner of this beautiful old theater. On May 18, 2010, the CAC (Community Advisory Committee) voted to spend up to one million dollars to restore the outside of the building. This money will be spent on things like the roof and to make the building secure. Some of the money is also earmarked to repair the marquee and to fix the tower. This is wonderful news and a step in the right direction to save this building from becoming more run down.

Kelly McHan
Lorenzo Theater Foundation

scottfavareille on July 2, 2009 at 12:38 pm

That 1982 photo would be shortly before it closed.

Jack Tillmany operated this theater for many years through the 1960s & into the early 1970s. When American Graffiti played here (as a move-over from the Southland Cinemas), it played here successfully for a number of weeks. Clint Eastwood films also drew well.

He also instituted a policy “No one under 16 admitted without a parent” at all times. This was largely to cut down on such things asas seat slashing

davidkaye on January 30, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Do people in the San Lorenzo/Hayward area not like the Lorenzo Theater? This restoration project has had no updates in almost 2 years. The 14-month deadline has passed. Does anybody know the status today?

JohnMessick on July 20, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Anything new going on with this movie theatre?

LorenzoTheatre on June 19, 2007 at 10:48 am

Thank you for posting that article from the San Leandro Times. Yes, we truly on our way! It is a very exciting time and the Save The Lorenzo Theatre Foundation is working hard to get the word out. Anyone who has any ideas for major fundraisers is asked to contact us via www.savethelorenzo.org

Diane Rinella
Vice President, LTF

scottfavareille on June 7, 2007 at 3:21 pm

This is taken from today’s San Leandro Times:

“Last week the Lorenzo Theater Foundation signed an agreement with the current owner of the property to take possession of the neglected movie house in ‘as is’ condition. Under the agreement, the foundation has 14 months to raise $300,000 to purchase the theater. The foundation has been working toward acquiring the property for nine years and after the theater changes hands, the real work will begin. The cost of repairing and remodeling the theater will be in the millions of dollars, since the Lorenzo has no electricity or running water and extensive structural damage.”

“The fundraising plan is to aim for 300 donors at $1,000 each. Current owner Dr Dharam Salwan kicked off the campaign by pledging $5,000 himself. Anyone who gives $100 or more will have their name placed on a plaque in the theater lobby.
It will be well over a year before anyone gets inside, and restoring the theater to its former glory will take place over the next five years or so, according to Lorenzo Theater Foundation president Nancy Shelvy.”

The plan is for the theater to screen classic films & be a general community visual & performing arts center. Anyone interested in donating can visit www.savethelorenzo.org or send checks payable to the Lorenzo Theater Foundation at
PO Box 193
San Lorenzo CA 94580

Sounds like positive news indeed!

CSWalczak on April 28, 2006 at 7:25 am

A rather sad exterior shot of the Lorenzo is at this website:
View link
I hope the prservation effort continues and succeeds.

kkdrake on April 12, 2006 at 4:22 pm

As of spring 2006, we are still working hard to obtain the theater from the present owner, who has allowed it to fall into a sad state of neglect. We are working with Alameda County Supervisors, Redevelopment Agency, San Lorenzo Village Homeowners Association and others, with the immediate objective of arresting the decay and preventing further damage. Please visit our website at www.savethelorenzo.org for photos, historical background, and upcoming fundraisers.

davidkaye on September 21, 2005 at 3:42 am

As of September 2005 a move to save the Lorenzo Theatre is still underway with occasional benefits. The latest was held by El Torito Restaurant.

The “Save the Lorenzo” website is at: http://www.savethelorenzo.org

BillGreen on November 24, 2003 at 4:48 pm

I first went inside the Lorenzo theater in 1956-7 when I lived in San Lorenzo. The matinee lines went for blocks and kids anxious to get in. The matinees were frequently sold out frequently. I think the cost was about thirtyfive cents. For a kid, those murals of jungle scenes and tigers were more than exciting. They were just as exciting when I was in high school. This is a great California treasure and I hope it will become a memorable place again.

unknown on October 20, 2003 at 11:12 am

Saw the inside of the theater this past weekend at a “Save the Lorenzo” open house. The good news is that the murals are intact & look beautiful. A lot of work is needed to bring this theater back into shape. The are huge holes in the ceiling from water damage and the looby area needs work as well. The event was well attended.