Friday, February 10, 2012

Granada Theater, 1216 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA

The Granada Theater is Santa Barbara's oldest standing movie palace, opened on April 9, 1924, and is the tallest building in the city. 
The architect of the Granada Theater was A.B. Rosenthal and the seating capacity on opening was given as 1,870. C.M. Urton built the Granada Building in 1920. The story goes that C.M. had never built a high rise before, so he sent away for a bunch of how-to books to help him out. It was like the 1920’s version of High Rise Construction for Dummies. Apparently he did a good job. The building was completed and opened in 1924. A year later in the aftermath of the 1925 earthquake, much of downtown Santa Barbara was in shambles. The Granada only suffered cosmetic damage. Shortly thereafter, C.M. posted a sign on the building saying that he was the builder.

It opened on 9th April 1924 with the movie "Mademoiselle Midnight" starring Mae Murray. On stage was Theodore Kosloffs Ballet Company accompanied by a 25 piece orchestra and a 4 Manual/17 Rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ.
The Granada opened with the movie "Mademoiselle Midnight" starring Mae Murray. On stage was Theodore Kosloffs Ballet Company accompanied by a 25 piece orchestra and a 4 Manual/17 Rank Wurlitzer theater pipe organ. First-night attendees were rewarded with a lavish 76-page program with congratulations from many luminaries, including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd and Cecil B. DeMille.

Theater goers entered through The Granada's grand lobby and were impressed by the wide staircases, lovely Spanish fixtures and Moorish arches. The Wurlitzer organ and enormous chandelier drew much attention, as did the elegant upstairs lounges. While the audience was charmed by the love seats in the loge section of the balcony, the performers were delighted to inhabit the relative luxury of fourteen dressing rooms on five levels.
The eight story building that surrounds the theater belies the Spanish architecture that lies within.

It used to be a Warner theater as witnessed by the neon lettering in the vertical sign (which no longer runs). The marquee is the second, the first, a more Spanish one, was more square and covered the two adjoining storefronts. Back in the day there was a self standing ticket kiosk as well. There is a escape tunnel under the building and a WWII fallout area complete with rations. The stagehouse still retains its wooden grid.

Back in late 1939 the Granada Theatre held the second sneak preview to the public of the movie "Gone with the Wind".
When "Under the Yum Yum Tree" was there as a sneak preview, Jack Lemon was there.

Pearl Bailey, Victor Borge and Vienna Boy's Choir gave live performances at the Granada.
The Granada has played host to the 20th century's greatest artists and entertainers: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Henry Fonda, Sir John Gielgud, Ethel Barrymore, Al Jolson, Will Rogers, Helen Hayes, Jon Vickers and Martha Graham have all graced the stage with their presence. 

Although the theater was triplexed under Metropolitan Theatres, the Granada Theater was returned to its original appearance, reopening on March 6, 2008. It now mixes movies and shows into it's lineup.

The theater is best known as the home of the Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera.

Jerry performed here on
4/12/73 (OAITW)
6/26/75 (Legion of Mary).

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