Golden Gate Theatre Renovation

San Francisco, CA | arts/entertainment | historic

A theatrical jewel reinvented for the 21st century.

ELS was part of the design team for the 13-month renovation of the historic Golden Gate Theatre. Originally opened in 1922, ELS has reimagined the theater for contemporary audiences while preserving the splendor of the original structure.

Improvements include custom-designed LED light fixtures and new burgundy stage draperies. A new red-and-gold carpet was based on an archival pattern and incorporates design elements found elsewhere in the space. Most notably, the color scheme throughout the theater is lighter and brighter, refreshing and animating the space while providing theatergoers with an elegant and timeless experience. Further updates include accessible restrooms (including the addition of all-gender facilities) and state-of-the-art mechanical and electrical systems. These behind-the-scenes updates will enhance comfort, access, and safety.

People walk across the lobby of the renovated Golden Gate Theater

The Golden Gate Theatre first opened in 1922 as a vaudeville house, hosting high-profile acts like Frank Sinatra, the Andrews Sisters, and the Three Stooges. In 1954, as interest in vaudeville declined, the theater was transformed into a movie palace. Much of Lansburgh’s interior work was torn down to stamp out the “outdated” vaudeville past and give the theater a more “modern” appearance. It again fell on hard times during the sixties and finally closed completely in 1972.

To prepare for the renovation, ELS gathered as much information as possible about the building’s history, relying on archival photos, newspaper clippings, and detective work in the absence of original drawings. The Golden Gate Theatre is a culturally significant building and a major contributor to the Market Street Theatre and Loft District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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