Hippodrome Theatre

2017 Fresno Street,
Fresno, CA 93721

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Klaw & Erlanger

Architects: Charles K. Kirby, Jr., Charles K. Kirby, Sr., Eugene Mathewson

Previous Names: Barton Opera House, Theater Fresno

Nearby Theaters

Hippodrome Theatre

The Barton Opera House was built in 1889, opening on September 29, 1890. In July 1907 it became part of the Klaw ?& Erlanger chain of theatres. It was renamed Theater Fresno in around 1915, and was remodeled on December 30, 1917 and renamed Hippodrome Theatre, presenting vaudeville, a circus and screening the silent movie “The Mark of Cain” starring Mrs. Vernon Castle.

A small 4 Rank 2 Manual piano console Wurlitzer (Opus 315) was installed. This organ was transferred to the White Theatre on Broadway (near the Hotel Fresno) and was installed in the same manner it had been at the Barton/Hippodrome - in a stand-alone swellbox backstage. Hayes McClaran removed the organ prior to the demolition of the White Theatre. The instrument is now owned by a collector in the Bay Area.

The Hippodrome Theatre was demolished in 1927, and T&D’s State Theatre (later Fox State/Esquire/Sequoia/Towne) was built on the site, opening in 1928.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

kencmcintyre on April 29, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Here is a July 1923 item that was in the Fresno Bee:

Adolph Ramish of the West Coast Theater Company, Inc., a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures Corporation, announced in Los Angeles to-day that he expects to close a lease on the Hippodrome Theater property in Fresno within a week or ten days. The deal, which Ramish says is virtually closed, will give the West Coast Company a lease which is to be followed by the expenditure of a large sum in remodeling and refitting the theater, converting it into a modern, attractive theater.

Following the announcement from Bakersfield that the Hippodrome in Fresno had been purchased came the statement from Ramish that the deal only contemplates a lease, not a sale of the property. The West Coast Theater Company now has control of 210 theaters on the Pacific Coast, its operations including the California Theater in Bakersfield, Loew’s Warfield in San Francisco, Loew’s State in Los Angeles, Tivoli in San Francisco, T & D Theaters in Oakland and Berkeley, and formerly affiliated theaters in Sacramento, Stockton and Watsonville.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on December 7, 2010 at 12:50 am

From the 1920s a postcard view of the Hippodrome Theatre in Fresno.

CSWalczak on December 7, 2010 at 1:52 am

There is an article about the Barton Opera House here: View link and an archival photo of it here: View link

CSWalczak on December 7, 2010 at 1:55 am

Comparing the pictures of the Barton Opera House and the postcard view of the Hippodrome, it is difficult to believe that they were the same building, but apparently was so.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm

The Fresno Bee article CSWalczak linked to is no longer there, but this might be it, moved to the paper’s Historical Perspectives weblog. It says that construction of the Barton Opera House began in 1889, and the house opened on September 29, 1890.

The portion of the building fronting on Fulton Street, which had housed the armory, was demolished and replaced by an office block in 1914-1915, and the theater was renamed Theater Fresno. At some point between 1914 and 1917 the theater portion of the building was remodeled.

A book published in 1919, History of Fresno County, California, by Paul E. Vandor, says that the theater was leased to the Hippodrome company and converted to a vaudeville house in 1917.

The design of the Barton Opera House is attributed to Charles K. Kirby, Sr. and Charles K. Kirby, Jr. by A guide to Historic Architecture in Fresno. No clue yet to the architect of the remodeling in the 1910s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm

The major remodeling of this theater was done in 1914. Southwest Contractor & Manufacturer of July 11 reported that Eugene Mathewson was the architect for a major remodeling of the Fresno Theatre. Mathewson would later serve as architect for the T&D circuit’s State Theater, which replaced the Barton/Fresno/Hippodrome in 1928.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Eugene Mathewson was actually involved in two remodeling jobs at this theater. The 1914 work on the Theater Fresno included new dressing rooms, fire escapes, a heating and ventilation system, and fireproofing. This project cost $20,000.

Mathewson was also the architect of the 1917 remodeling for the Hippodrome circuit, though on this job he was joined by San Francisco architects Weeks & Day, acting as consultants, as reported in the September issue of The Architect & Engineer of California.

rivest266 on January 27, 2021 at 3:16 pm

This reopened as the Hippodrome on December 30th, 1917. Grand opening ad posted.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 24, 2023 at 2:43 pm

The July 13, 1907 issue of The Billboard noted that Fresno’s Barton Opera House was then being operated as part of the Klaw & Erlanger circuit of playhouses.

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