San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark #214: El Capitan Theatre and Hotel 23 January 2004
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San Francisco Landmark #214
El Capitan Theatre and Hotel
2353 Mission Street Between 19th and 20th Streets
Built 1928

The long lost interior of the El Capitan was Spanish Colonial Revival. The surviving façade is Mexican Baroque. The architect, Gustave Albert Lansburgh, was one of the masters of theater design in the first half of the 20th century.

The El Capitan, once the second-biggest movie theater in town, was demolished in 1961. The rest of the building (shops, a rooming house and the old marquee) are still there. Ever since, motorists can drive through what was once the lobby entrance into what was once a 3,000-seat theater. Today it's a parking lot....San Francisco Examiner editorial dated 12 April 1999

Along Mission Street you can see the decline of the grandeur that existed in the area after the 1906 earthquake, when many of the biggest and most expensive theaters in the West opened there to record crowds. The New Mission Theater, the El Capitan and the others are all shuttered today, and there are enough closed shops and graffiti- scarred buildings to make one wonder if the area's resurgence is just a phase of the booming economy or part of a deeper, long-term turnaround....Ken Garcia in the San Francisco Chronicle, 14 September 1999

On 28 March 2011, celaniasdawn posted the following on Cinema Treasures:

We called it "The Cap" and it was a beautiful theater. The marquee flashed in beautiful colors and the sign would spell out the letters of the theater one by one. A tall big guy named Dan Mcclean ran the place. He was always dressed in a tuxedo and top hat, greeting you as you came in. I remember his huge black handlebar moustache, my mom thought he was a cutie pie and he would flirt with her. There was a powderroom upstairs and my mom had to powder her nose one more time before we left, and she flirted with him on the way out. What I remember about the Cap, were those beautiful curtains on the stage, there were two of them. When the curtains opened there was another one right behind it that started to open and went straight up. The previews would start and on the screen it would say, "Coming Soon.....To YOUR El Capitan" it made you feel like you owned it.
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