Castro Theatre

429 Castro Street,
San Francisco, CA 94114

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Castro Theatre

The Castro Theatre, situated at the corner of Castro Street and Market Street, is one of San Francisco’s most recognizable landmarks. This magnificent neighborhood theatre is decorated in the Spanish Renaissance style; with a Moorish Tent ceiling, Oriental Zodiac emblems, and Art Deco touches throughout. It was built by the Nasser Brothers and became the flagship theatre of their small circuit of neighborhood theatres. It was the first theatre to be designed by architect Timothy L. Pflueger.

Opened June 22, 1922 with Wallace Reid in “Across the Continent”. Waldemar Lind and the New Castro Orchestra and Carmichael at the Robert Morton pipe organ accompanied the movie. In 1937 a small fire damaged the auditorium, and Timothy L. Pflueger was brought back to redesign some damaged sections and design a new Art Deco style chandelier in the center of the auditorium celing. In 1950 the organ was replaced by a Conn organ, which, in around 1980 was replaced by a larger 3 manual 16 ranks Wurlitzer organ, the console of which was originally installed in 1925 in the the State (now Palms) Theatre, Detroit, MI. In recent years the Castro Theatre has hosted several premiers including in 1984 “The Times of Harvey Milk”, in 1985 the world premiere of “Buddies”, and in 2008 the world premiere of “Milk” which also featured the theatre in the movie. The Wurlitzer organ was removed from the theatre at the end of September 2015 and will be replaced by a 7 manual pipe/digital organ.

The theatre is still going strong in the country’s best known gay neighborhood. Playing films from across the spectrum of independent film, the Castro Theatre is one of the last picture palaces left in the San Francisco area.

In 1976 the Castro Theatre was designated San Francisco city landmark #100.

Contributed by Tom Rielly, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 176 comments)

m00se1111 on February 1, 2023 at 8:06 am

Today (2/1/23) is the historic preservation committee hearing. Taking place at 12:30pm at City Hall. They’re encouraging everyone to wear red to show unity and represent the seats 🟥

Can’t make it in person? You can still livestream the hearing from home, and even call in to make comments. Full details here:

m00se1111 on February 2, 2023 at 9:34 am

Notes on the community hearing held on 2/1/23

stevenj on February 2, 2023 at 11:24 am

From the SF Chronicle Datebook section on the Landmark Commission’s vote to recommend to the full SF Board of Supervisors that the interior be landmarked:

“After an impassioned public hearing that lasted for more than five hours and included hundreds of speakers on Wednesday, Feb. 1, the commission voted 6-0, with one recusal, to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that it pass a Castro Theatre landmark designation amendment initiated by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman “to include both exterior and interior character-defining features, and update the statement of significance to include LGBTQ historical associations.”

That recommendation, which the Board is scheduled to consider next month, would appear to throw a hurdle in the way of Another Planet’s latest plan for removing some seats and leveling the raised floor of the Castro District venue.

But the Berkeley-based promotion company said on Thursday that it was happy with the recommendation, which did not include language that specified the fixed orchestra-level seating should be protected."

Not sure if you need a Chronicle subscription to see this link to the full story:


m00se1111 on February 2, 2023 at 6:13 pm

More on the Commission’s recommendations in an SFist article (no paywall)

Moviefan333 on February 2, 2023 at 8:19 pm

An extremely foolish decision if they vote landmark the interior of the theater. If they do this yes another planet won’t be able to Take out the seats that are there now most likely. They proposed a very good expensive compromise. Still they would be able to have a raked floor for the movies. Then for live events they could take out the rake of the floor. The commission is listening to uninformed people who don’t want any changes inside the theater. Landmark in the interior will be the beginning of the end for the Castro theater. It hasn’t been making money showing movies for years. 60% of each dollar goes back to the movie companies when you show a new film like Bros. If you’re showing a older movie you have to pay the movie companies $350 just to run the film. Then there’s other costs like utilities staffing etc. Making it hard to even break even when you show older movies depending on how many people come. The future of places like the Castro theater are live events along with movies when there are no live events happening. I hope the commission does not go through with a very shortsighted foolish decision to landmark the interior of the theater. They are kowtowing too Well-meaning people who are uninformed about the business side of running a theater like the Castro

m00se1111 on March 11, 2023 at 3:06 am

Christopher Beale’s podcast on history and possible for the future of the Castro

m00se1111 on April 7, 2023 at 4:55 pm

“On Thursday 4/6/23, the Castro Merchants voted to conditionally support Another Planet Entertainment’s (APE) proposed changes to the 100-year-old Castro Theatre.”

Stephen Bracco has details in his hoodline article

m00se1111 on April 27, 2023 at 9:45 am

The Castro Theatre Conservatory has realized an ambitious plan to wrest the Castro from the clutches of APE. It would leave the seating and interior as plan.

Plans call for a 365 day a year schedule. 200 days of film, 52 for film festivals.

stevenj on June 7, 2023 at 7:41 am

“SF Supervisors Vote in Support of Castro Theatre Landmark Update Without Controversial ‘Fixed Seating’ Language”

Hoodline article Here

HowardBHaas on June 7, 2023 at 1:49 pm

I think there ought to be a difference between the preferences of people who would prefer for fixed seating, and more film screenings, and legal landmarking, so I understand government’s wishes to landmark the theater but not obligate fixed seating. Historic preservation law is one matter. Policy & shows are another.

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