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Jul-8-2011

Time machine: The Alexandria Theater


Photo from cinematour.com

CinemaTour.com has an excellent photo collection of the exterior and interior of the Alexandria Theater, taken just before it closed in February, 2004. The photos do a nice job of capturing its art deco and Egyptian design influences.

The theater originally opened in 1923 and was designed by the Reid Brothers, who were also architects for other Richmond District landmarks such as the 1909 Cliff House, the Coliseum Theater (where Walgreens is on 9th & Clement), the Alexandria Theater, and the Balboa Theater.

I’ve included a few pics here but be sure to visit the website to see many more.

Thanks to RichmondSFBlog reader Joshua for the tip.

Sarah B.


Photo from cinematour.com


Photo from cinematour.com


Photo from cinematour.com


Photo from cinematour.com


Photo from cinematour.com


Photo from cinematour.com


Photo from cinematour.com

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10:30 am | Posted under History, Movies | 9 comments
  1. Annie said (07/8/11; 10:59 am):

    Yes, the design details are glorious. But there’s a reason the place went under. I went to a movie there in the late 1990s and it was an awful experience. I’m no neatnik at all, but the place was so dirty I felt slightly sick. The carpets were visibly dirty, with spilled popcorn and stains on them. The ladies’ restroom, had not been cleaned in such a long time that the room smelled, and one of the toilets was stopped up. The trash cans in the ladies room were overflowing and the trash was spilling out onto the floor. It was winter and it was cold inside the theater and when I asked somebody about heat I was told that the heat was broken and the building owners refused to repair it. I’d already bought my ticket, so I stayed for the movie, but I was so disgusted I swore I’d never go back — and I never did. And I think a lot of other people must have had the same experience, because there were maybe 20 other people in the theater for this flick (sorry, I don’t recall what it was).

    Maybe the building owners figured it would cost too much to fix the heat, but not cleaning the place? That’s the sign of an owner or manager who has simply stopped caring. And if the people who run an enterprise, any enterprise, don’t care enough, why shoudl anyone else?

  2. Tim said (07/8/11; 11:01 am):

    I really miss this theater. I spent so many summer days watching movies here. It used to be such a tradition to go to the Alexandria for a movie then over to Joe’s Ice Cream after.

    I really wish they would renovate this theater. Is there a community group pushing for this?!? If so, count me in!

  3. Administrator said (07/8/11; 11:24 am):

    @Tim – Check out this earlier story on the plans for the building and back parking lot:
    http://richmondsfblog.com/2011/01/17/the-latest-plans-for-the-alexandria-historic-preservation-committee-meeting-jan-19/

    The project received its negative mitigated declaration from the planning dept. so they’re in the final phases of getting plans approved. Hopefully they’ll start development soon.

    Sarah B.

  4. Chris said (07/8/11; 12:01 pm):

    I’d be really interested to see some pictures of how the inside currently looks. I’m sure that the last few years of abandonment have not been kind :(

  5. joshua said (07/8/11; 1:01 pm):

    The photos above were taken the day it closed in 2004, so the inside is probably very run down and dirty after years of neglect, plus all of the theater chairs were torn out a few years back. To restore this theater back to what it was will take someone that wants to and can afford put a lot of money into it. Hopefully it will be restored for future generations.

  6. Jean said (07/8/11; 1:04 pm):

    I remember it well. During my HS years I saw some memorable films there. Huge screen, great seats, good popcorn. What a treat!

  7. Phil said (07/8/11; 1:43 pm):

    They’re planning a 200 seat theater, in the current model. I hope this thing gets final approval and moves quickly toward construction and completion.

    A real shame that the Alexandria was permitted to become so run down; the landlord was absentee, and was either ignorant of the state of affairs, or just didn’t care.

    Moving forward, we’re going to see a movie theater there, again – albeit smaller. I can’t wait!

  8. Ocean Beach news roundup July 9 | The Ocean Beach Bulletin said (07/9/11; 8:03 pm):

    [...] Does anyone else miss the Alexandria Theater in the Richmond District? Check out these photos of its former glory. – Richmond SF Blog [...]

  9. Bill H said (04/14/12; 9:50 pm):

    Hello to all I have a great history with the Alex. I got my first job there as an usher, met many great people, ushers, asst managers, managers, candy girls etc. I met my future wife there, a candy girl, talking daily. I spent four years there from 1974 through 1978, before being fired by Mr. Burns, the new manager everyone hated. I was sitting on the stairs of one of the new upper theaters and he came walking behind me. I was there longer than most, I worked the swithboard for all the theaters upstairs with Claire, and hung out with the projectionists upstairs, bought beer across the street at Sevags liquor, and had hambergers at Joes. It is a shame that this theater can’t be restored to a fine restaurant and venue for live entertainment. It is a treasure that need to be preserved, before it is too late!

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