Pajaro Theatre

225 Main Street,
Watsonville, CA 95076

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This theater was made by partly hollowing out a Nineteenth Century brick commercial building, and adding a concrete stagehouse structure to the rear.

The Pajaro Theatre is listed as (Closed) in the 1941 and 1943 editions Film Daily Yearbook, and is not listed in the 1951 edition Film Daily Yearbook. A photo of Main Street taken during a flood in the 1930’s, clearly shows the 1920’s or 1930’s style marquee and vertical sign still in use. “A family friend who grew up in Watsonville in the 1930’s emphatically referred to the Pajaro Theatre as ‘the flea house’.”

Long before the building was demolished in 1985 or 1986, the front had been remodeled into commercial space, though the stagehouse could clearly be seen.

The site of this former theater, as well as the much later Centre Theatre a few doors down, is now a parking lot for the Post Office built in about 1986.

Contributed by Gary Parks

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

GaryParks on November 27, 2004 at 4:05 pm

I should make a correction here. The flood photograph which showed Main St. covered with water and with the Pajaro Theatre in the background was not from the 1955 flood, but rather from an earlier flood, which would have happened between 1931 and 1938, as the marquee of the Fox Theatre is in the foreground, and it is the version of the marquee which existed between those years. A new Fox marquee (which lasted until the early 1990s) was added in 1938 when Main St. was widened. The marquee of the Pajaro was rectangular, and looked to have been of Twenties or early Thirties vintage, as was the vertical sign.

kencmcintyre on May 6, 2009 at 4:21 pm

From the Oakland Tribune, 3/14/36:

WATSONVILLE, March 14.â€"Sale of the Pajaro Theater here to the West Coast Theaters Corporation was reported today. No estimate was given of the amount involved. The Pajaro Theater was owned by J. A. Harvey.

GaryParks on May 9, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Lost Memory’s April 27 post above does not show the Pajaro Theatre this page is devoted to, but rather the Pajaro Showplace that was built in the early 1980s. See the listing for the Galaxy Theatre under Watsonville theaters.

AprendaPresents on August 10, 2010 at 7:57 am

The Pajaro was acquired and remodeled in 1925 by the Harvey Amusement Company, with Julian A. “Arthur” Harvey Sr. as President. Extended family helped to operate the theater. This was the first theater in the family’s chain. Family members moved away to help run the other theaters. When J.A. Harvey Sr. retired at age 69, the theater was sold. (As an aside, Julian Arthur Harvey Jr. owned two theaters in downtown San Jose during the 1930s and is sometimes confused with his father.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 2, 2011 at 2:44 am

The August, 1922, issue of The Architect and Engineer says that architect G. A. Lansburgh had “…completed plans for the new Pajaro Theatre at Watsonville, to cost $60,000.”

GaryParks on July 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Joe Vogel: The Architect and Engineer issue you found refers to the construction of what would long since be known as the Fox. It was independently financed by a group of local investors which called themselves the El Pajaro Company. They hired G. Albert Lansburgh to design the theatre for them, and it was originally to have been called El Pajaro. It opened instead in 1923 as the California (and as such was on the Jr. Orpheum vaudeville circuit), and was remodeled and renamed Fox in 1931 after having become part of the Fox West Coast circuit. The theatre that became known as the Pajaro was a retrofit of an existing brick commercial building across the street and one block South of the California/Fox. As late as the 1960s, the Fox would still be owned by the El Pajaro Company, though run by Fox/NGC, according to a gentleman who once worked for the chain. The brick building which once housed the Pajaro was demolished c. 1986.

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