Beautiful New Tower Theatre to Open: Movie Playhouse on Broadway Represents Finest in Modernism

Originally published in The Bee on Nov. 10, 1938

Amid a blaze of light and color, the $200,000 Tower Theatre at Broadway and Land Park Drive will be opened at 5 o'clock tomorrow afternoon. The completion of the motion picture playhouse, which embraces many novel architectural features, is heralded as another important milestone in the rapid development of Broadway, known as Y Street until last August 21st.

The Tower Theatre will be a subsequent run house.

The Inaugural Bill

Its inaugural bill includes showings of Algiers, starring Charles Boyer, Hedy Lamarr and Sigrid Gurie, and Freshman Year, a story dealing with the first year class in a fictional college. Selected shorts will round out the program.

The Tower Theatre was constructed for the Tower Theatre and Realty Company, headed by Charles J. Holtz, proprietor of the Sierra Theater in Sacramento and the Del Paso Theater in North Sacramento, and Joe and Abe Blumenfeld, San Francisco theater magnates.

Of Concrete and Steel

The building is of reinforced concrete and steel, covering an area 110x208 feet. The playhouse proper is 65x208 feet in area. The roof has been insulated.

Architecturally, the playhouse follows the classic modern theme of design, which represents one of the furthest advances in architecture.

V Type Bulletin Boards

The marquise and sign are new and novel in design, with a V type bulletin board containing five lines of copy space on each face. The letters are a new type known as silhouette. Flashed opal glass is used behind the letter frames which diffuses the light, making the letters stand out in bold relief. The marquise is illuminated with neon in red, blue and gold.

Rising above the marquise is a 100 foot tower with a twenty five foot neon eight faced sign in green and red. The tower proper is constructed of reinforced concrete and steel. The shaft is to be floodlighted with 1,000 watt floodlights in color.

Lobby is Circular

The lobby is original in design, being circular. The floor is of colored terrazzo and the wainscoting is of maroon tile, stripped with one inch stainless steel.

The box office is on the building line and is striking in appearance. Sand blasted plate glass is used in the upper half, providing decoration and concealment. The lower half is carried out in title to match the lobby wainscoting.

Seats for 1,000

Seating accommodations are provided for 1,000, of which 560 loge seats, padded heavily on seat and back and arranged so as to provide that necessary "leg room."

Six ceiling electric fixtures of modern design are provided, with three lighting circuits from which many striking color combinations may be obtained in colored light. On the walls are eight horizontal bracket fixtures of similar design, carrying two lighting circuits each.

The Acoustic Treatment

The walls and ceiling are covered with a new sound deadening material especially designed for theater wall surfaces. Aside from acoustically correcting the sound, this material is fireproof.

The stage is draped with a title curtain of triplex satin in peach color, with a valence and side panels of permacrush velour in a rich burgundy shade.

Air Conditioned Completely

The auditorium is air-conditioned completely with a $20,000 refrigeration system and heating system, which contains filters to remove dust and impurities before distributing the air through eight large grill openings in the ceiling, concealed by the lighting fixtures. The manner of introducing the air in the auditorium provides an even distribution to all parts.

The latest developments in projection and sound reproduction have been incorporated. The outstanding feature is a rotary stabilizer sound head, which was given one of the technical awards by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. Loud speakers are used which provide undistorted reproduction of all notes -- from the tremendous crescendo of a full orchestra to the softest strains of a violin.