340 Mobil Avenue,
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Functions: Religious Services
Howard Bayer opened the 604-seat Ponderosa Theatre on July 28, 1964. The theatre was a replacement for his 224-seat Valley Theatre, which closed on July 12 after 26 years. The Oxnard Press-Courier noted that the architects were Carl Schwartz and Howard Leach of Oxnard who designed the theatre with a lobby box-office. The 50-foot curved screen was the largest in Ventura County and the balcony was reserved for adults.
Being the only theatre in Camarillo, the Ponderosa Theatre started out playing family or GP movies. In a January 1971 Press Courier interview, Bayer said he lost money for two years when he played family or GP movies. He reluctantly began to play the X and R-rated movies and was criticized in the community but said he had to play those movies to stay in business.
In April of 1972 the Press Courier reported that that Mr. Bayer was in negotiations to sell the closed theatre. The new owner experimented with adult movies in 1973 before changing it to a discount dollar house in 1975. In early 1979 the theatre’s advertisement disappeared from the movie listings.
By April of 1985 the Ponderosa Theatre had been closed for six years and the city planning commission allowed the theatre to be converted to a banquet center. Since 1993 the former theatre has been home to the Camarillo Center for Spiritual Living.
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