Lights Out: Sacramento’s Lost Movie Houses

Posted on January 8, 2012 – 9:25 PM | by Admin
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Del Paso

Two lost theatres of the same name, same place, 2120 Del Paso Blvd.  In this January 1935 photo, we see the first Del Paso Theatre, where legendary Sacramento showman Charlie Holtz managed his first theatre.  It opened June 29, 1928 and burned to the ground on January 15, 1942.  No theatres were constructed during WWII but on January 25, 1947, the new Del Paso Theatre rose like the phoenix from the ashes in a streamline modern style; closing eventually in 1972.  Lightning struck twice when a 1990 fire gutted the auditorium.  The theatre building was demolished in 1998, but the terrazzo sidewalk proclaims “Del Paso” to this very day.


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  1. 7 Responses to “Lights Out: Sacramento’s Lost Movie Houses”

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    By John on Feb 7, 2012 | Reply

    The Rio actually lasted longer than 1955. When I came to Sacramento in 1962 it was still open and showing Spanish language films. It closed sometime later afterwards but then re-opened under a new operator for a while showing “pin up” (nude model) adult films. Live burlesque was later added to the film programs. I believe that lasted to about 1965 when it was closed for good. On the Cinema Treasures website in the comments section for the Rio there is a link to a picture of the theatre in the early 1960’s (obvious from the cars on the street) with mexican film titles on the marquee.

    Nice pictures and commentary Matias! Why don’t you do a book on the Theatres of our great city! I can’t think of anyone more qualified! Cheers!

  3. avatar

    By Theatre Historical Society of America on Mar 1, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks, Matias, great info and photos. THS will be in your city June 26-30 touring about 28 theatres throughout the Central Valley during our annual Conclave / Theatre Tour. Perhaps we will get a chance to meet then !

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    By Gary Parks on Mar 1, 2012 | Reply

    Wonderful collection of images, Matias. You solved the mystery of the names and dates of the theatre that I knew once occupied the space where Alejandro’s Taqueria is today.
    A portion of the Alhambra’s auditorium wall decoration is in the Oakland Museum of California, and I have seen other portions of its plaster ornament for sale over the years at antique shows.
    The neon marquee of the Capitol is identical to one still on the former Varsity Theatre in Palo Alto–Borders Books from 1996-2011. The Capitol’s pipe organ is still in use in a Winery in the Healdsburg area.
    The Theatre Historical Society is looking forward very much to visiting Sacramento’s remaining vintage theatres this June, as well as other theatre treasures throughout the Central Valley on our Conclave tour.

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    By Wayne Zimmerman on Mar 2, 2012 | Reply

    Many Thanks Matias!!!!!

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    By Mike Munson, DSP on Jan 11, 2014 | Reply

    Matias… Read the Bee article and am thoroughly enjoying your input on “Lost Movie Houses”. As I am my 70th year, I recall many of the old venues. Remember taking the no.5 bus downtown and going to the Senator, Crest or Esquire, if finances permitted.. the California in Oak Park, Capitol or Roxie (World) if they didn’t. Entering in the bright late morning light and exiting in the evening darkness.. an adventure nary equalled in today’s movie-going! But I am fascinated by your recounting of seeing “Jaws” first-run at the Esquire. Wouldn’t you have been around 6 or 7? Envy your powers of recall!! ….. All the best, Mike

  7. avatar

    By Scott on Apr 28, 2016 | Reply

    Wasn’t there a “Star Theater” on K Street not far away from Esquire Theater?

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