Lakeside Theatre

4029 Lake Tahoe Boulevard,
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

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Additional Info

Styles: Quonset Hut, Rustic

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Lakeside Theatre

Located in the town of Bijou (later renamed South Lake Tahoe)on Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Park Avenue. The 450-seat Lakeside Theatre was a South Shore Lake Tahoe Quonset Hut style theatre, with a wooden rustic style façade. It was owned and operated by local Judge Rudy Buchanan and wife Jeannie since opening in June 1948.

Major movies played there in the summertime months before they would “premiere” in Hollywood … how/why I don’t know (this fact applied also to the Tahoe Drive-In in the early-1950’s. Perhaps the summertime Tahoe tourism was a test market).

The original Lakeside Quonset Hut style building collapsed under heavy snow in 1962; the Buchanan’s then opened a beautiful new Lakeside Theatre in 1963 which included their new home living quarters, upstairs adjacent to the projection booth!

The Buchanan’s passed away and new owners divided the lovely auditorium into an automated four-plex. About 2000, it was demolished and replaced by retail businesses, starting with Office Depot.

Contributed by Wm Kingman

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Three photos of the Lakeside Theatre, from 1948, 1953, and 1956, can be seen on this post at the web site of the Lake Tahoe News. The text says that the theater “… was about midway between today’s Applebee’s Restaurant and the Park Avenue stoplight….” That would place it on Lake Tahoe Boulevard very near Park Avenue. Applebee’s is at 3987 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, so the theater must have been at about 3993 Lake Tahoe.

CinemaTour has photos of the New Lakeside Cinemas (the 1963 replacement building) and gives the address as 1043 Emerald Bay Road, which is quite some distance from the location of the original Lakeside Theatre. CinemaTour doesn’t list the original Lakeside, and we don’t yet have a page for the New Lakeside.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 9, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Boxoffice of May 15, 1948, said that Rudy Buchanan and Charles Johnston’s Lakeside Theatre in Bijou, California (the original name of this town later absorbed into South Lake Tahoe) would be ready for opening about the middle of June.

DavidZornig on August 5, 2020 at 7:21 pm

Update on ownership in the 1960s. Check stub image and description added credit Jennifer Laing Horst.

“Lakeside Theater was owned by Betty and Will Tomlinson. He,was Vice President of Screen Gems. I worked there in the mid 60’s selling tickets. They wanted me to move to Crescent City to run a theater there for them but I didn’t. They also opened the theatre by Cecils. I didn’t make much but it was a lot then.”

DavidZornig on August 5, 2020 at 7:42 pm

1957 photo and description added credit Jeff Blanc‎. Original quonsut hut building.

John Eickhof
John Eickhof on August 22, 2023 at 5:24 pm

I was young and living near Stateline, I saw many a Saturday matinee at the Lakeside! When Judge Rudy Buchannan built the new Lakeside near the Y, My Father was the masonry contractor that built the building. Later I worked there and serviced the booth. After it was split into the four screen, I managed it until Wallace bought it from Bob Retzer. It had a pair of Century projectors with Peerless Magnarc lamps and a nice 2 bedroom apartment upstairs that I lived in while managing the Retzer circuit. I was there for a few years and was working at theatres in North Shore of Tahoe.

MSC77 on August 30, 2023 at 10:55 am

The newer/replacement Lakeside (aka Lakeside 4) now has an entry in the Cinema Treasures database.

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