El Rancho Theatre

16856 C Street,
Victorville, CA 92392

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Western Amusement Company Inc.

Architects: Howard George Elwell

Functions: Church

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Victorville Film Center

Nearby Theaters

El Rancho Theatre exterior

According to the Victorville Daily Press, Jack Baldock, a long-time community leader, built the El Rancho Theatre near where he closed his Victor Theatre. It opened on July 26, 1950 with William Bendix in “Kill the Umpire”. Baldock also owned the Mesa Theatre and the two drive-ins in Victorville. Baldock operated the El Rancho Theatre until he reluctantly closed it on May 20, 1984.

Vintage photographs show the theatre was often decorated with large banners and posters for special movies such as “Planet of the Apes”. Old-timers remember it for its many kiddie shows. A monthly program calendar from May of 1953 and a newspaper article with a photograph of Baldock sitting inside the auditorium near the time it closed can be seen at the Route 66 Museum, a few blocks away. It was twinned on October 8, 1976. It was closed on May 20, 1984 with a free screening of “The Bounty” starring Mel Gibson. In 2016 it reopened as the Victorville Film Center screening classic movies, but soon closed following a fire in the building.

The building’s mid-century modern exterior, with poster cases and marquee intact is in fair but restorable condition and is now home to a Christian center.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 9, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Plans for the El Rancho Theatre were announced in the July 16, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The architect was named Howell Ewald.

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Here is a more recent photo. The address should be changed to 6th and C Streets.

MagicLantern on July 19, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Judging from that photograph, the address is 16856 C Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm

A typesetter at Boxoffice must have been drinking heavily. The 1949 issue I cited previously butchered the name of the architect. “Howell Ewald” was actually Howard George Elwell, according to the 1950-51 edition of Jay Emanuel’s Theatre Catalog.

Maybe this link will work.

MichaelKilgore on July 2, 2021 at 1:43 pm

A column in the May 13, 2016 in the Victorville Daily Press said that the El Rancho was twinned in 1976, and that glimpses of it can be spotted in the movie “Electra Glide in Blue.”

A long article in the July 3, 2016 issue of the Daily Press said that the El Rancho’s grand opening was on June 28, 1950. The final performance, on May 20, 1984, was a free showing of “The Bounty” with Mel Gibson.

At the time of the article, the building was the site of the New Beginning Christian Center.

rivest266 on August 6, 2021 at 8:26 am

Grand opening ads posted. It reopened as a twin cinema on October 8th, 1976.

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