Stanford Theatre

221 University Avenue,
Palo Alto, CA 94301

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Related Websites

Stanford Theatre (Official), Stanford Palo Alto history

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres, Peninsula Theatres Company

Architects: William Day, Gale Santocono, Charles Peter Weeks

Firms: Weeks and Day

Functions: Movies (Classic)

Styles: Greek Revival

Previous Names: Fox Stanford Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 650.324.3700
Manager: 650.324.3701

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News About This Theater

Auditorium Ceiling

The Stanford Theatre, a beautiful Greek/Assyrian style movie palace, first opened on June 9, 1925 with Reginald Denny in “I’ll Show You the Town”. It had an original seating capacity of 1,454. It is equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual 21 ranks organ. It was built and operated by the Peninsula Theatres Company and later operated by Fox West Coast Theatres, some remodeling was carried out in 1956 to the plans of Gale Santocono. It was closed in 1976.

In 1987, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation purchased the theatre (located in downtown Palo Alto, California) to preserve the historic building and provide a proper setting for exhibiting films from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

The Stanford Theatre Foundation was established for the purpose of operating the theatre and promoting the preservation and public appreciation of classic films. Today, the theatre’s programming consists of 100% classic films, primarily from the years 1920 through 1965.

It was closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and reopened on July 9, 2022., but closed later in the years due to the need for heating and A/C upgrades. It reopened on July 1, 2023.

Contributed by Cynthia Mortensen

Recent comments (view all 48 comments)

pedalmasher on January 28, 2012 at 3:20 am

If you have the time, please write me at . He was such an amazing person who everyone respected. I’m curious as to when he retired, when he passed away, etc. Did he stay in Palo Alto after retirement? Thanks. Sandy

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

A few 2011 photos can be seen here and here.

Dramatrauma on May 10, 2013 at 5:57 am

Heres a few photos of the interior, bits and pieces from the balcony.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on May 15, 2013 at 9:11 am

The Mighty WurliTizer Theater Pipe Organ in the Stanford, Opus 1825, a 4/20 (manual/ranks, keyboards/sets of pipes). It was originaly shipped to the Loews Theater in Syracuse, New York on January 13, 1928. In 1964 it was sold to a private owner in Glendale, California and in 1965 it was sold to another private owner in San Lorenzo, California. In 1995 it was sold to the Stanford and it is played all the time. Does it now have more ranks?

WurliTizer Church Pipe Organ Opus 274 Shipped to the San Francisco WurliTzer Store on January 16, 1920 and then on to the 1st Baptist Church in Martinez, California was also been sold to the Stanford several years ago, much to the chagrin of a former 1st Babist Church organist. He believes “they bought it for augmenting the installation there”.

There was an organ in the theater when it opened and it was removed. Anyone know anything about that organ or what happened to it?


AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm

It is wonderful that this theatre is open, showing movies, and also has a theatre organ installed and playing, although I must agree with Mr. Jensen that 20 ranks is plenty large enough (especially for a Wurlitzer), and it doesn’t seem right to take another additional organ and add it to this one, although this sort of thing has happened countless times over the years.

Couldn’t the buyer of opus 274 have found a good home for it, the way it is/was?

Regardless, the “Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ”, pg. 628, notes that the Fox Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, California, had a three manual, 10 rank Leathurby-Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1925. The blower serial # for this organ is 16848, and the blower was 5 horsepower, putting out 10" of wind.

Does anybody know what happened to this organ and where it (or its parts) are today?

Mr. Bob Loesch, of Northern CA, noted on his website (no longer up) that he started out learning to play the theatre organ on a 3-manual 10-rank Smith organ, and provided a photo of the organ’s console on his website. Could this be the same instrument?

Smith appears to have built relatively few three-manual organs (at least seven of them, compared with dozens of two-manual organs), could this be the same one?

Trolleyguy on July 2, 2022 at 7:48 am

The Stanford has been closed due to the Pandemic. It is now scheduled to re-open on July 9. Updated website link: website

rivest266 on July 2, 2022 at 12:02 pm

Closed as a full-time cinema in 1976. Reopening date unknown.

stevenj on December 18, 2022 at 6:13 pm

Reopening was in July but shuttering again for upgrades to heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Reopening in early 2023.


stevenj on June 27, 2023 at 9:00 am

The Stanford Theater reopens July 1 with a Best of Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock Festival.

Info Here

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