National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

National Register #01001206: New Mission Theater
23 January 2004
(Click Photo to Zoom)
National Register #01001206
New Mission Theater
2550 Mission Street Between 21st and 22nd Streets
Built 1916

The New Mission Theater is significant as an excellent example of an early 20th century movie palace, and as a work of two masters: San Francisco's Reid Brothers and Miller & Pflueger, Architects.

The existing auditorium of the New Mission Theater was the first designed by the Reid Brothers, and it remains the firm's best-preserved theater interior.

Miller & Pflueger's remodel has gained its own level of significance, and although not the most comprehensive example of the firm's work, the Mayan-inspired Art Deco elements, particularly the facade, crafted by famed marquee fabricator Alexander Aimwell Canon, are extremely unique and illustrate Timothy Pflueger's interest in Pre-Columbian Mexican architecture.

The New Mission Theater was a centerpiece of the "Mission Miracle Mile" during the first half of the 20th century. Between the 1906 Earthquake and 1940, almost a dozen motion picture houses opened along Mission Street in an eight-block section between 16th and 24th Streets.

Initially designed in 1916-17 by the Reid Brothers, the 2,800-seat New Mission Theater was the first "downtown" movie palace constructed in the Mission District. Although many predicted that the New Mission Theater would never survive, the theater opened to much fanfare, including a speech by Mission-born mayor James "Sunny Jim" Rolph. Rolph extolled the opening of the theater as a symbol of the growing political and economic power of the then-predominandy working-class Irish neighborhood.

From 1917 until the El Capitan Theater opened in 1928, the original New Mission Theater prospered and dominated the theater trade of Mission Street. After moviegoers began deserting the New Mission for newer theaters, the second owner Abraham Nasser retained Timothy Pflueger to remodel the building in a more up-to-date style. Pflueger's modish Art Deco facade and promenade lobby re-popularized the theater in the middle of the Depression, and it quickly resumed its position until die end of the Second World War.

Extratced from the NRHP nomination.

The New Mission Theater is also San Francisco Landmark #245.

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