The May 7, 1927, issue of Building and Engineering News said that O. C. Williams was taking bids for construction of a theater, office, and store building to be built at Pismo Beach for W. W. Ward.
The Ward (or Ward’s) Theatre is mentioned as early as 1929 in Movie Age, and is mentioned quite a few times in Boxoffice in the 1930s and early 1940s. The most recent mention of it in Boxoffice is in the February 9, 1946, issue, in an item not about the theater itself but about the owner’s daughter who had been hospitalized after driving her car into the front door of a local bank.
That the Ward vanishes from the magazine before the Pismo opened is another indication that the Pismo was probably the Ward rebuilt. Another indication is a card in the California Index citing a 1948/1949 theater catalog which attributes the design for the remodeling of the Pismo Theatre to architect Vincent G. Raney.(4)
The Pismo pier, originally 1750 feet in length, extends 1107 feet to sea, built by W.W. Ward in 1925 at a cost of $120,000.
The architectural style indicates a late-1920s construction date. I’m sure the Ward Theatre and the Pismo/Central Coast Theatre are one and the same.(4)
The July 8, 1927, issue of Film Daily says that O. C. Williams was indeed the architect of the theater being built at Pismo Beach for W. W. Ward. The location of the new theater was given as Dolliver and Pomeroy, so there can be no more doubt that the Central Coast/Pismo Theatre and the Ward Theatre of 1927 are the same house.(4)
The June 28, 1947, issue of Boxoffice says: “July 1 is opening of the new Pismo Beach Theatre, operated by Westland Theatres. Al Chamberlin will manage the first-run house.”
This theatre has a 20's exterior, but the interior is definitely a moderne remodel. It is worth going inside. The stage flytower once had painted and neon letters simply reading "THEATRE" on all sides, which were visible from the nearby freeway. The sign on the rear wall of the stagehouse also featured remnants of a mural, perhaps a forest (it was badly weathered).
This building was rumored to host performances by Charlie Chaplin for Hearst privately. Hence the old back drop of the Garden (Hearst's garden). The signs were repainted to read "BILLIARDS" several years ago. (1)
In 1955 the theater was owned by Westland Theaters.
In 1961 through 1964, the Pismo Theater was part of Hardy Theaters, a chain that had houses in Oakland, San Francisco, Fresno and Pismo Beach. Headquarters was in San Francisco, and the president was Gerald Hardy.(3)
Jimi Hendrix performed here.
May have been called "The Rose Garden around 1976-77.(6)
This was a single screen theater in Pismo Beach, located a block from the beach. It showed second-run double bills in the 1970's and 1980's. (It briefly showed XXX films at midnight in the early 1980's before a local pastor started picketing the theater and that ended it.)
Rocky Horror” had a midnight run here. They also had rock concerts there. Randy Hansen performed a fantastic show here in October, 1979.(5)
In the late 80's a promoter, who had rock bands such as Blue Oyster Cult perform in 1988, held an event and then he stole the box office money and left town.
In 1990, a sit down dinner playhouse was there. They cut the movie screen into a arched opening.
In 1991, the theater was partially renovated, restoring the 800 seats from it's opening and opened as Central Coast Theater.
Today, the lobby area is a t-shirt shop and the auditorium is a pool hall with a small area in the back (where the stage was) that sells beer and fish and chips. Many of the Art Deco touches remain in the auditorium.
Jerry performed here on
Dennis Kota produced the concerts.
1.)^Parks, Gary, 2005-10-29, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/14272
3.)^McIntyre, Ken C., http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/14272
4.)^Vogel, Joe, 2009-08-12, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/14272
5.)^DougFromSLO, 2011-09-17, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/14272