Spreckels Theater Building

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For the building in San Francisco formerly known as the Spreckels Building, see Central Tower (San Francisco).
Spreckels Theatre Building
Spreckels Theater Building.jpg
The Spreckels Theatre Building in July 2006
Location San Diego, California
Built 1912
Architect Harrison Albright
Architectural style Chicago-style
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 75000467[1]
SDHL # 76
Significant dates
Added to NRHP 1975
Designated SDHL August 4, 1972[2]

The Spreckels Theater Building was built in San Diego, California in 1912. It was touted as "the first modern commercial playhouse west of the Mississippi".[3] It has been in continuous operation since its opening, with a few brief intervals for refurbishing.

Architecture[edit]

Architect Harrison Albright designed the Spreckels Theater for the city's premier philanthropist, sugar heir John D. Spreckels. The building, which opened on August 23, 1912, was constructed to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal. As with many west coast buildings from this era, it is constructed of reinforced concrete and concrete panels with architectural terra cotta manufactured by Gladding, McBean. The six-story building has a marquee over the main entrance. The theater is a 1,915-seat auditorium with an ornate Baroque interior. The auditorium is open with no pillars or columns to obstruct sightlines. The number of seats was chosen to correspond with the Panama-California Exposition year (1915). The stage is 82 feet x 58 feet, and was one of the largest stages ever constructed. Even by today's standards, the theater meets most criteria to be considered state-of-the-art.[4]

History[edit]

The theater originally presented live theatrical productions. Notable performers at the Spreckels included Enrico Caruso, John Barrymore, Al Jolson, Will Rogers, and Abbott and Costello.[5]

In 1931, it was converted into a first-run motion picture house by its then-owner Louis B. Metzger.

In 1976, owner/operator Jacquelyn Littlefield (Metzger's daughter) returned it to a live theater format, bringing touring Broadway shows to San Diego in cooperation with the Nederlander Organization.[6]

When fire destroyed San Diego's Old Globe Theatre in 1978, the Spreckels hosted the Globe's 1978-79 season.[7]

Today[edit]

Spreckels sign at night (2013)

San Diego's Spreckels Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It continues to operate as a theater.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15. 
  2. ^ "Historical Landmarks Designated by the San Diego Historical Resources Board". City of San Diego. 
  3. ^ San Diego Historical Society
  4. ^ Spreckels Theater website
  5. ^ San Diego Union Tribune, Sep. 30, 1992
  6. ^ Spreckels Theater website
  7. ^ Old Globe Theatre