Oaks Theater

1875 Solano Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94707

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Blumenfeld Theater Circuit, Metropolitan Theatres, Renaissance Rialto

Architects: William Bernard David, James Reid, Merritt Reid

Firms: Reid Brothers

Styles: Streamline Moderne

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News About This Theater

Oaks Theater

Opened September 15, 1925 with Ford Sterling in “Steppin' Out”. The Oaks Theater was remodeled in a Streamline Moderne style by architect William B. David and reopened September 6, 1940. It was was restored by the Renaissance Rialto chain in 1994.

From February 2005, it was taken over by Metropolitan Theatres. It was taken over by an independent operator in early-2010 and screened first run and Bollywood films.

Sadly, it was closed in late-December 2010.

Contributed by frenchjr25@hotmail.com

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

misterken on April 17, 2012 at 11:18 am

Sad when this local community theatre closed. I enjoyed not only the movies but also the lit marque at night.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

AndrewBarrett on October 1, 2014 at 7:49 pm

I am very glad to see this theatre still standing and I do hope it will open again before too long.

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, the “Oaks Th.” in Berkeley, California had a two manual Leathurby-Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1925.

Further information on the organ, such as size (# of ranks), and blower information, is not given in the book.

Does anybody know what happened to this organ or it’s parts, and where it is/they are today? Thanks!

Also, if anyone has photos of the organ chamber(s) in the theatre, that would be great!!!

Would the current owners be amenable to allowing a visitor to come and take pictures of the organ chambers in the closed theatre, if they’re still present?


jordanlage on September 6, 2016 at 11:59 pm

Saw a few movies at the Oaks in my time, but the only ones I remember was a double-feature of Don Taylor’s “Tom Sawyer” the musicalized version from 1973 I believe, and right after it, John Sturges’s “Joe Kidd” with Clint Eastwood. These would have been second or even third runs of these films. I saw this double-feature in July or August of 1973. Joe Kidd was released in July of 1972; Tom Sawyer’s release date was March 1973. I’ve always liked that the Oaks was perched prominently at the top of Solano Avenue in Albany (Berkeley), and looked forward to seeing what was on the marquee as you drove west out of the Northbrae Tunnel. That it’s closed now (and McCallum’s ice cream!) significantly diminishes the allure of the Solano Ave commercial district. Should Pegasus Books fold that will be the end of my visits to that neighborhood.

moviebear1 on March 14, 2017 at 9:05 am

At 8 years old I saw my first 3D movie here “IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE” I was so impressed that any time I had a chance to see 3-D I would go out of my way to do so. In 2004 I visited the theatre again. and was pleased to find it was still there and open for business. They were running Oceans Eleven. Great memories. They are closed now but It is still standing. Here’s hoping someone will bring it back to life.

walterk on May 23, 2017 at 9:39 am

A local article says the Oaks has been put up for sale, after 6 years of unsuccessfully trying to lease it. It's hoped that nonprofits that may have been put off by the thought of raising funds to refurbish a leased space will find it more attractive if they can own the building. Asking price is $4.25 million, the property includes 5 retail spaces and 5 offices. A vintage photograph accompanies the article, it appears to be from the late 1930s.

terrywade on June 2, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Once someone removes the wall down the middle and brings in a better large screen and sound system this will be a great place to see a movie or live music event in the future. Tired in need of remodel work all the Landmark cinemas in Berkeley/Albany they lease will have some competition If the Oaks re opens again and fixed up. I have some friends with $$ that may be interested and may take a look this week.

jordanlage on July 30, 2017 at 7:08 am

Yes, it’s a classic theater that deserves to be restored and showing repertory fare, like the Castro or the Stanford. Trouble will always be parking on Solano Avenue.

stevenj on August 15, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Touchstone Climbing, the company behind Ironworks and other gyms around California, plans to purchase the Oaks Theatre in Berkeley and turn it into a climbing facility.


walterk on February 9, 2018 at 8:46 pm

The Berkeley Gazette ran an article about the opening of the Oaks that evening, on September 15, 1925. The two pictures that accompanied it are now in the photo section

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