Spreckels Theater Building

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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
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 was designed for philanthropist John D. Spreckels, and was meant to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal. It was originally created to host live theater performances, but was converted to allow motion pictures in 1931. 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.

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.[4]

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.[5]

When fire destroyed San Diego's Old Globe Theatre in 1978, the Spreckels hosted the Globe's 1978-79 season.[6]

In July, 2015, Conan O'Brien hosted his Conan show from the theater to correspond with that year's ComicCon.[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.

Past Performers[edit]

References[edit]