National Theatre

930 National City Boulevard,
National City, CA 91950

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Pussycat Theatres

Architects: Theodore C. Kistner

Firms: T.C. Kistner & Co.

Previous Names: Bush Theatre, Abalee Theatre, Paris Theatre, Pussycat Paris Theatre

Nearby Theaters

National Theatre exterior

Opened as the Bush Theatre in February 1928 with a stage production of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”. By 1938, it had been renamed National Theatre.

On September 15, 1955, it was renamed Abalee Theatre screening Walt Disney’s animated feature “Lady and the Tramp”. It became the Paris Theatre on July 3, 1963 screening Bill Teas in “The Immoral Mr. Teas” (aka Mr. Teas and his Playthings"), director Russ Meyer’s first movie. It was part of the Pussycat Theatres chain. In 1967, it was one of four Pussycat Theatres to operate in the San Diego area, screening adult movies and closing in July 1999.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

JayAllenSanford on June 29, 2010 at 11:06 am

Thanks for adding this theater! Photos and interviews with former National Theater employees in this week’s new San Diego Reader – View link

JayAllenSanford on June 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm

This was the eighth ‘Cathouse in the Pussycat Theatre chain founded by filmmakers Dave Friedman and Dan Sonney in 1966. By 1968, the duo had sold the theaters to Vince Miranda and George Tate at Walnut properties, who operated this locale as a Pussycat until the mid-‘80s.

After that, former Aztec Theater (San Diego 5th Avenue) owner Wesley “Andy” Andrews leased the 500-seat property from Walnut and kept it open under the Pussycat name until the late ‘90s, after all but the last few California ‘Cats had closed.

National City purchased the property (which included an adjacent furniture store also owned by Walnut) for $1,066,000. The theater by itself was valued at around $336,000, according to county tax records.

“I guess you can call it progress,” Wesley Andrews told the San Diego Union Tribune (8-4-98). “I don’t know that there’s anyway to fight it."

Mayor George Waters padlocked the National City Pussycat for good in July 1999. According to the Star News (7-17-99), Vice Mayor Ron Morrison found an old 1971 reel in the projection room, from a Walt Disney film rather than a porno. “It was probably used in case of a raid,” he reportedly quipped.

The National City Pussycat sat abandoned and ignored for awhile. The building was later bulldozed to make way for an intended student-resource center dubbed the University Education Village.

drb on July 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Here’s a vintage post card
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 16, 2011 at 3:11 am

As JayAllenSanford noted in an earlier comment, the National Theatre has been demolished.

Given the opening year of 1928, it’s likely that the Bush Theatre was the house mentioned in the August 20, 1927, issue of Building and Engineering News, described as a two-story theater and store building for Major T. C. McCaully. The Los Angeles architectural firm T. C. Kistner & Co. designed the project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 12, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Theodore C. Kistner, architect of the Bush Theatre, was an 1897 graduate of the School of Architecture of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He practiced in his native state for a number of years before moving to California, where he opened his first office in San Diego.

The various firms in which Kistner was a partner over the next few decades specialized in school buildings. As far as I’ve been able to discover, the National was his only movie theater project, though he must have designed an enormous number of school auditoriums throughout southern California.

rivest266 on May 2, 2024 at 11:15 pm

renamed Abalee on September 16th, 1955. Grand opening ad posted.

rivest266 on May 3, 2024 at 1:05 am

Taken over by Vince Moranda (founder of Pussycat Theatres) on July 3rd, 1963 an renamed Paris. Grand opening ad posted.

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