Mission Theatre

228 S. First Street,
San Jose, CA 95113

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres, T & D Jr. Enterprises, United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Architects: William Binder, Ernest Curtis

Firms: Binder & Curtis

Styles: Beaux-Arts

Previous Names: Theatre De Luxe, T & D Theatre, California Theatre, Fox Mission Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Mission Theatre

The work of local architects William Binder and Ernest Curtis for the T & D Theatres circuit, the 1,350-seat Theatre De Luxe opened on August 14, 1913 with James K. Hackett in “The Prisoner of Zenda”. It was equipped for both movies and vaudeville. It had a balcony, and a rectangular proscenium flanked by Ionic pilasters. It was equipped with a Robert-Morton organ.

When the T & D Circuit became part of West Coast Theatres, the Theatre De Luxe was renamed California Theatre on June 27, 1924, and given one of the West Coast chain’s lightbulb poppy-bordered vertical signs. The reopening movie was Jack Holt in “Wanderer of the Wasteland”. It had been equipped with a Wurlitzer organ which was opened by organist Charles Gibson Hayward.

When the New California Theatre (now the Fox Theatre) opened on April 1927 (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures), the vertical sign was moved over to the new theatre, and the "old" California Theatre became the Fox Mission Theatre.

It underwent a modernization of its fa├žade and signage in the late-1930’s or 1940’s. When the Consent Decrees were finalized in the early-1950’s, Fox, which by this time had a near monopoly on the best theatres in Downtown San Jose, had to divest themselves of one house. The Fox Mission Theatre was chosen–it has been rumoured–because the structure was mainly built of wood and had termites!

The theatre went to United Artists, who were soon ordered to close it – Fox having the last laugh – due to the termite problem. The theatre was closed in September 1952 and was soon demolished, except for the reinforced concrete stage-house, which stood for many years after that as a storage facility until the redevelopment of downtown began.

Ironically, in the early-1990’s, an astonishingly stark multiplex, operated by United Artists was built partly on the former Fox Mission Theatre site. Fox, now long gone as a theatre chain, still has the last laugh, however. The United Artists ‘plex was a failure, and closed after only a couple of years.

Contributed by Gary Parks

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

GaryParks on June 8, 2004 at 4:45 pm

Update on the “astonishingly stark” multiplex erected on the site of the Fox Mission: Locally owned and operated Camera Cinemas is going to be reopening it very soon. I’m hoping that their budget includes some nice eye-catching details which will relieve the poor building’s “gentrified cellblock-meets-the Great Glass Elevator” appearance.

GaryParks on June 23, 2004 at 3:32 pm

The Camera 12, (former United Artists Pavilion) which occupies part of the footprint of the vanished Fox Mission, is now open.

kencmcintyre on October 18, 2005 at 7:27 pm

Does anyone know where this theater was in San Jose? It doesn’t look like the Fox Mission or the Fox Padre. Thanks.

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BhillH20 on October 18, 2005 at 8:40 pm

It turns out to be the CALIFORNIA Theatre. See www.shomler.com for photos.

GaryParks on October 22, 2005 at 2:42 pm

This theatre was indeed called the California after it was called the DeLuxe. However, as soon as the “new” California was built in 1927 (the one that is now restored and is featured in the Shomler photos mentioned in the above comment), this theatre became the Mission, and remained so until its 1953 closure and subsequent demolition.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 10, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Trade journal Moving Picture World ran this item about Turner & Dahnken’s Theatre De Luxe in its issue of November 9, 1913.

DavidZornig on December 29, 2019 at 11:09 pm

1921 photo added courtesy Martin King.

rivest266 on April 16, 2024 at 1:52 pm

Renamed California on June 27th, 1924 and Mission on March 20th, 1927 with “Ben Hur”. Grand opening ads posted.

rivest266 on April 17, 2024 at 2:20 pm

Closed in September 1952.

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