California Theatre

San José, CA | arts/entertainment | historic

Shuttered for over 30 years, the California Theatre has been renovated and expanded into the new home for Symphony Silicon Valley and Opera San José

Sketch by Anthony Grand

Said to be the finest theater in California on its opening day, the California is one of the best-preserved examples of late 1920s movie palaces in the country. The theater began its decline in the 1950s and in 1977 it was shut down. As part of its restoration and expansion, ELS restored the building’s First Street façade to its former elegance and refurbished and seismically upgraded its opulently ornamented interior and auditorium. A larger and deeper stagehouse was constructed to accommodate modern productions, and the balcony was reconfigured for better sightlines. A new, three-story limestone building expands the theater and contains an entry foyer and performer support facilities. A new two-story building on First Street adds a conference room, bathrooms, and café while shaping a new outdoor courtyard to the east. The beautifully restored and expanded theater is now a centerpiece of San Jose’s South First Street Arts District.


United States Institute for Theatre Technology Honor Award

California Preservation Foundation Design Award for Rehabilitation

AIAEB Design Citation

Building Design & Construction Grand Reconstruction Award

California Construction/McGraw Hill Construction Best of California

San Jose Downtown Association Golden Nail Award

Project Stats
  • Client

    Team San José

  • Size

    85,000 sf


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