Harding Theater

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Harding Theater
General information
Type Theater
Architectural style Gothic, Moorish
Location San Francisco, California, United States
Completed 1926
Design and construction
Architect Reid Brothers
Main contractor Samuel H. Levin

The Harding Theater is a historic movie theater located at 616 Divisadero Street in San Francisco, California.

History[edit]

The Harding Theater was built in 1926 by local theater owner Samuel H. Levin who hired Reid Brothers architects. The theater opened April 8, 1926 with Colleen Moore starring in the first movie version of the hit musical Irene.

As with other facilities built by the Reid Brothers, it has a capacity of between 800 and 1200 people.[1] The Harding was used as a movie theater from 1926 to 1970. The theatrical group Lamplighters Music Theatre performed at the facility from 1961 to 1968,[2] The Grateful Dead were featured at the theater on 7 November 1971 with their first performance of "Hideaway".

From the mid-1970s to 2004, the theater was used as a church.[3] In 2004 (approximate date), the building was purchased by developers for US$1.6 million.[4]

Present day[edit]

The owner/developer had a "compromise" plan—to remove the back fly system (see also batten) - so a separate independent structure containing eight units of housing condominia could be constructed, preserve the existing proscenium arch, maintain the existing auditorium and lobby and their extant detailing, while seeking a tenant to provide a use for the space. Consideration for the removal and reconstruction of the raked theater floor and seating to allow for a new parking level below, addition of windows, and the upgrade of restrooms to conform with modern building codes were also reviewed in depth to conform with the Secretary of the Interior's "Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Structures".[5]

Historic preservation activists believe this plan threatens the historical integrity of the building and limits its future uses.[6] An appeal was filed against the San Francisco Planning Department's "Negative Declaration" to the Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).[7][8] In 2005, a similar challenge was successfully made against the negative declaration to the developer's original plan to demolish the entire theater to build more condominiuma. That appeal was heard by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in April 2005.[9]

The Planning Department's recent Mitigated Negative Declaration was appealed by Friends of 1800 and was heard on September 25, 2008. The Planning Department rescinded that Preliminary Negative Declaration and prepared a new one, which has also been appealed by the Friends of 1800.

The request for an EIR was heard on November 13, 2008 by the San Francisco Planning Commission, at San Francisco City Hall.[10] The Planning Commission unanimously approved the request of the Friends of 1800 for an EIR, thus an EIR will be required for the project.[11] A feasible plan to pay for and preserve the entire theater has not been put forward by the activists.[12] The developer says he is now putting the building up for sale.[13] A local theater preservation nonprofit is investigating ways to preserve the theater.[14]

In November of 2010, laser cats were painted on the Theater's boarded up entrance. [15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cinema Treasures lists capacity as 1250 seats, as did a San Francisco Chronicle article. However, a San Francisco Examiner article described the theater as having 800 seats.
  2. ^ Lamplighters Music Theater.
  3. ^ San Francisco Planning Department memorandum by Moses Corrette, Preservation Technical Specialist, to Tammy Chan, dated 10/23/06. Available as "Attachment 2" to the appeal available at the link below. See also San Francisco Chronicle, January 14, 2005, also cited below.
  4. ^ Available on San Francisco Planning Department public computer, main floor 1650 Mission St., San Francisco, CA or calling the San Francisco Planning Department main number at (415) 558-6378. This information is likely available at the San Francisco Assessor/Record office, City Hall, 1st floor, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco. (415) 554-5516. See also San Francisco Chronicle, January 14, 2005, cited below.
  5. ^ San Francisco Planning Commission - agenda for 17 July 2008
  6. ^ Friends of 1800 website
  7. ^ San Francisco Planning Department
  8. ^ Appeal filed by the "Friends of 1800" group
  9. ^ San Francisco Board of Supervisors - minutes of the 19 April 2005 meeting
  10. ^ http://www.sfgov.org/site/planning_page.asp?id=92631
  11. ^ http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/34446689.html
  12. ^ http://www.sf.curbed.com/archives/2008/11/14/shows_over_hard_knocks_for_harding_theater.php
  13. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=55&entry_id=32690
  14. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/17/DDP114OCJG.DTL&hw=garchik+harding&sn=001&sc=1000
  15. ^ http://io9.com/5693537/the-greatest-laser-cat-mural-in-the-universe

External links[edit]

37°46′32″N 122°26′16″W / 37.77551°N 122.43767°W / 37.77551; -122.43767