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The California Theatre Under Siege
What you see are not views of Detroit or somewhere near a New York City subway station. This is what was recently done to San Diego's historic California Theatre. It's not the handy-work of a street gang being let loose upon this once regal movie palace. It is "art" commissioned by the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. This is not exactly what most proud San Diegans would want to show our out-of-town guests. And to have to explain, "yes, someone was actually paid to spray-paint this building, which happens to be a historic landmark desperately trying to survive."
The California Theatre is highly ornate, if restored it would add considerably to the aesthetics of downtown and importantly, it holds enormous potential for adaptive reuse. Photo by Sandé Lollis
SOHO has worked to protect this gem at least since 1990 when it was slated for demolition. The absolute disregard of this art project toward the fragile facade is a painful reminder of the insensitivity this historic site has had to endure. Photos by Dan Soderberg
What we'd like to show our guests, if it could only come true, is this Spanish Revival treasure fully restored to its full glory as San Diego's most ornate movie palace. To turn the clock back as it was in 1927 when the California Theatre was touted as "the cathedral of the motion picture." Indeed, the lavish interior, decorated in gold leaf and murals, was inspired by a Spanish Church. How splendid it would be to hear, once again, the huge Wurlitzer organ thunder music throughout the vast 2,200-seat auditorium.
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