State Theater

182 N. L Street,
Dinuba, CA 93618

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 5, 2018 at 1:18 pm

The exterior of Dinuba’s Strand Theatre building doesn’t look Romanesque at all. The overall form and most of the detailing, especially the arched second floor windows, the pilasters with stylized Corinthian capitals, and the parapet medallions with swags, look more Classical Revival than anything else.

jeremyrichardson on April 5, 2018 at 11:49 am

My great, great-grandfather, Pat McBee was a projectionist at this theater in Dinuba for 18 years. He passed away in 1968.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Here is a photo of downtown Dinuba with the Strand Theatre as it appeared in the 1920s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 11, 2011 at 4:45 am

The Los Angeles Times of February 2, 1923, reported that the Strand Theatre had opened at Dinuba. Southwest Builder & Contractor of May 26, 1922, reported that the Strand had been designed by Fresno architect Ernest J. Kump. Modern sources usually refer to him as Ernest J. Kump, Sr., as his namesake son also became a noted architect.

kencmcintyre on November 29, 2008 at 11:40 am

Correction, 1947, not 1942.

kencmcintyre on November 29, 2008 at 11:40 am

Here is a 1942 photo from Life Magazine:

tomdelay on August 23, 2006 at 2:23 pm

There is another theatre in Dinuba a few blocks south on L Street, on the same side as the Strand/State Theatre. I have no idea what the name of this theatre might have been. Perhaps it was known as the Dinuba Theatre mentioned elsewhere in this list. The Fly is clearly visible from a side street where it backs up to an alley east of the theatre.

It is my understanding the theatre was converted to a bowling alley.
I have no idea if this building is still used or not.

tomdelay on August 23, 2006 at 2:18 pm

Another organist at the Strand/State theatre was Verne Clifton. For years and years, Verne has been the organist for First United Methodist Church just a couple blocks from the Strand. Verne had been a music teacher at the local high school for years and years.

I saw Verne this last June (at Warnors Theatre in Fresno…) and he is still going strong at 88.

The church where he plays the organ was originally given the 2 manual 4 rank style B Wurlitzer from the Strand/State Theatre. The church decided that this organ would not suit their needs and purchased a 2 manual 8 rank Robert Morton residence organ built in 1922 for the Ruth Anderson residence in Hollywood.

The Strand/State organ was then sold to Richard S. Villemin in nearby Porterville. Richard tripled the size of the organ and added a style R Wurlitzer roll player. The organ was used for a number of recordings of Wurlitzer rolls cut by the theatre organ legend, Jesse Crawford. For better or for worse, Richard converted the original 2-manual Strand/State Wurlitzer console into a hodge-podge 4 manual built up from 2 2-manual consoles.

After Richard’s passing in October 1987, the organ was given to the local Sequoia Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. I last saw the organ (console, seven remaining sets of pipes, and all percussions) in storage, in Fresno circa 1997. I have no idea what became of the organ after that. A few sets of pipes that Richard added to the Strand/State organ were acquired by his sister Ruth and those now reside in the 4 manual 22 rank Wurlitzer she donated to the Fox Theatre in Visalia. (Ruth also donated the fine style 216 copy Wurlitzer organ that is in the Fox Theatre in Hanford.)

When the Apostolic Church purchased the theatre, they did little to improve the situation. What little was left of the interior, was scraped down to the 2 x 8 wall studs. Only the proscenium arch and orchestra pit remained unscathed. I was able to sneak into the theatre prior to the church’s destruction of the interior.

The interior must have undergone a remodel at some time. There was no evidence of organ screen(s)—just flat surfaces with murals painted on them. There wasn’t even any framing visible where the organ screen(s) might have been once the church scraped the plaster off the walls.

Sometime after this, the church lost interest in the project and walked away from it—leaving a gutted auditorium with little left
from its opening in 1922.

GaryParks on May 5, 2006 at 9:44 am

Last weekend, I saw the Strand Theatre for the first time. I was interested in finding it because the uncle of a friend of mine was organist there in the silent film era. Unfortunately I’ve lost contact with my friend, but I met his uncle in the mid-1990s, who was living in a wonderful old house in Palo Alto at the time. He had several pianos and electronic organs in his home, and lent me a tape of some recent piano compositions of his, which amazingly (for a man of his years) sounded remarkably like the comtemporary jazz/new age fusion so popular in the last two decades. He said that the theatre was called the State then, so presumably the name change from Strand to State took place very early—in the Twenties.

But back to the theatre itself—
The structure is built of brick. There is a large office/commercial block fronting the auditorium portion. Only the far right storefront is in use. The other three are boarded up, as is the entrance. The marquee has been removed, but an inscription in the stone or terra cotta entablature atop the office block still reads, STRAND THEATRE. The theatre features a fly tower and a surprisingly deep stage for a theatre in a city the size of Dinuba. Judging by the auditorium’s size from the outside, the seating capacity must have been nearly or slightly over 1000.

I took pictures. I held my digital camera up to a 1" crack at the top of the plywood blocking the Auditorium Left exit door. This produced an image of what lay beyond, which is a cobweb-draped plaster-walled passage, with another doorway beyond, presumably leading into the auditorium. Past that…only darkness.