State Theatre

18 West Lake Avenue,
Watsonville, CA 95076

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres, T & D Jr. Enterprises

Architects: William H. Weeks

Styles: Spanish Colonial

Previous Names: Appleton Theatre, T & D Theatre

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State Theatre Before Demolition

One of only a few theatres (excluding a number of school auditoria) designed by prolific Northern California architect William H. Weeks (not to be confused with prolific theatre architects Weeks & Day), the ‘teens house survived up until the very end with its exterior almost totally in original condition.

Opened in 1914, it was originally named the Appleton Theatre in honor of the thriving apple growing industry of the Watsonville area, the theatre soon became part of the T&D (Turner & Dahnken) circuit, which later was acquired by West Coast Theatres, which in turn became part of Fox. As a Fox theatre, the house became the State Theatre.

The interior was remodeled in a Spanish Colonial style following a 1924 fire.

Beginning at some point following WWII, Spanish language films were shown on a weeknight every week, eventually becoming the fulltime policy for this theatre up until its closing in the mid-1960’s, when it became a warehouse for Ford’s Department Store next door. The organ chambers were removed and the main floor leveled, but otherwise the interior remained remarkably intact–balcony, wall niches, proscenium with busts of Conquistadores, firecurtain, even chandeliers–until the building’s demolition along with the department store next to it following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Contributed by Gary Parks

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

GaryParks on May 7, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Regarding that fine photo from 1945: When the State was turned into a warehouse for Ford’s department store in 1967, that marquee was removed and the entrance blocked off. The two poster case frames facing the street remained, though filled with stucco. The rest of the facade, including the black and green veined marble along the base, and all of that ornamentation, remained exactly as shown right up until the building’s post-1989 earthquake demolition. The ornamental cartouche and moldings which stick up above the main cornice line were removed and salvaged prior to demolition, as were the ornamental corbels with the cherub faces in their centers. A friend of mine salvaged all the marble along the bottom himself. I have one jagged approximately 6 x 8 inch piece of it which I snagged subsequently.

GaryParks on July 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I have updated the Street View to show precisely the modern building which occupies the complete footprint of the Appleton/T&D/State Theatre building. The alley to the Right ran along the East flank of the office block and the auditorium behind.

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