Dome Theaters in San Jose in danger!

In danger of demolition are the Winchester Theaters, a group of dome-shaped movie theaters which opened nearly 50 years ago showing It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World  to herald both the space age and new cinema.

picture from http://www.svmodern.com
picture from http://www.svmodern.com

The buildings—originally called the Century Theaters—were the first theaters of their kind. Designed by San Francisco architect Vincent Raney and opened between 1964 and 1966 to accommodate a new widescreen technology called Cinerama that was developed to help theaters distinguish themselves from television, The Century Theaters are a cultural symbol of postwar prosperity for the masses and a widespread optimism in the future. Although the theaters have not been granted landmark status yet some architectural historians agree these are some of the best remaining examples of mid-century modern architecture in Silicon Valley and have as much historical significance as the Winchester Mystery House.

It was recently announced that the ground lease is due to expire and the landowner is seeking to find a developer for the property that is currently home to the Winchester Theaters, formerly The Century Theaters (21, 22 and 23.)  Theater 21 is a single screen; Theater 23 is a two screen theater, each under a single dome; and Theater 22 has three single theaters under three domes. The City of San Jose is in the process of trying to rezone the commercial property as an “Urban Village” to allow for high-density residential development. technology are at risk of demolition in Silicon Valley, but local preservationists hope to spare at least one from the wrecking ball .

The Retro Dome (under the direction of Guggenheim Entertainment, Inc) and the Preservation Action Council of San Jose (PAC-SJ) are partnering to raise awareness and promote action pertaining to the “Winchester Domes.” Since 1990, PAC-SJ has been dedicated to preserving the architectural heritage of San Jose.

One example of reuse, as suggested on the donation page, would be preserving Century 22 to provide a home to The Retro Dome, which occupied a sister Dome on Saratoga Avenue but was recently displaced when plans were announced to demolish the former Century 25. A wonderfully historic building would be saved from the wrecking ball and The Retro Dome would be reborn and serve as a home to multiple Silicon Valley-based performing arts groups. With the three adjoining theaters, Guggenheim Entertainment and its partners would be able to offer the region a cooperative Performing Arts Center unrivaled by any other.

After nearly four successful years in their location at the former Century 25 Theater, The Retro Dome (under the direction of Guggenheim Entertainment, Inc) was forced to close its doors when the property owner refused to renew the lease.  Guggenheim Entertainment is looking for a new location to make its home, offering the community and region high quality, professional entertainment and educational programming.

What can you do to help prevent the tragic loss of another piece of our Mid-Century history?

Sign the petition

Visit the website

Join the Facebook page

 

share this:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

More articles:

Get a free 1950's diner!

Ok, if you’re in Huntington, PA or nearby I want you to go check this out or the article is here too: http://foodio54.com/blog/?p=157 Send me photos! There HAS to be a 1950’s mid century nut out there who will take it…someone?

Read More

Retro Roadtrip: The Sunset Motel

This motel came as a recommendation from two different readers, Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan with the EZ66 guide.  We added it to our stays along Route 66 in New Mexico. This little motel is a bargain, clean, updated (good or bad depending on whether preservation is a priority or modern comforts) and family owned and operated. Most rooms have have a flat screen TV and free wireless access. They serve a small continental breakfast

Read More

Lighting of the green at the Boots Motel!

We’ve been watching the restoration of the Boots Court Motel in Joplin, Missouri for years, from the “Save the Boots Motel campaign”,  until they reopened in 2012 and we got to visit and check it out in June 2011. This latest, and possibly the last piece of the  renovation not only highlights what a great job they’re doing for preservation of the motel, but for renovation all along Route 66! “Bringing back the neon” was

Read More

#2 50's House detail!

I posted this a long time ago, but I think it got lost….like it has in these bushes. I love this light and the numbers that go with it. I also totally adore the trim color on this house (actually it’s a duplex in our neighborhood). Not SURE it’s vintage 50’s (anyone care to weigh in on this?) but the house certainly seems to have kept it’s 50’s charm. I’m having trouble with my feed.

Read More