New Sutro Baths documentary opens at the Balboa, Nov. 4

Adolph Sutro was a visionary whose passion for engineering, building and collecting culminated in his grand masterpiece – The Sutro Baths. The baths opened to the public in 1896 as the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment, and later morphed into an ice skating rink and museum, housing Sutro’s exotic treasures that he had collected from around the world. The Sutro Baths closed in 1966 and burned down soon after.

Next Friday, the Balboa Theater will premiere a brand new documentary about Sutro Baths entitled Sutro’s: The Palace at Lands End, directed by Tom Wyrsch who created the acclaimed 2010 documentary, Playland at the Beach.

Journey back in time to revisit Sutro Baths when it was in full operation. Through interviews, film footage, and hundreds of photographs, this film not only allows us to relearn and finally understand Sutro Baths’ history, but also to feel and experience it. See The Seven Pools, Sutro Railway, Merry Way, Sutro’s Cliff House, Ice Skating Rink, Egyptian Mummy Museum, Tom Thumb Exhibit, Musee Mecanique, Torture Museum, Lord’s Last Supper, Ito, Giggling Ghost, 1963 & 1966 Fires, Sutro Ruins, and much, much more. A nostalgic trip back in time told by historians and the people that were there. (84 min.)

As a native San Franciscan who is too young to have visited Sutro Baths, I am fascinated with its history. I love the videos of playful swimmers taken in 1897 just after they opened, and a glimpse into its later years as seen in the 1958 film “The Lineup”. All that’s left today are some oceanside ruins, but even those emit some of the old magic of Sutro’s playhouse.

I can’t wait to see the film, which brings together great video footage and photos that have been collected over the years of this grand San Francisco landmark. I guarantee that if you see it, the next time you glance on the ruins that are there today, you’ll have a whole different picture in your mind of what used to be.

The film opens at the Balboa next Friday, November 4 and runs for one week; tickets are available online ($7.50 – $10.00) or you can buy them in person at the box office.

Don’t miss it!

Sarah B.

One Comment

  1. I honestly think that it would be great if it were rebuilt, whether as baths or as some other grand public function.

    Maybe it would’ve made a good spot for that modern art museum that they wanted to build on the Main Post in the Presidio.

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