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About the Lorenzo
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Lorenzo Theater Foundation

Web Designed by: Tim Kautz

Funded by a gift from:
Dr. Ted Shrader

Webmaster: David Goldman

Save the Lorenzo - Help Save this Magnificent Building

About the Lorenzo

Where were you April 5, 1947? In San Lorenzo a momentous event was taking place, as the Lorenzo Theatre opened for business. The 700-seat, $465,000 theatre brought the Villagers out in black ties and formal attire. There was a party at the Homes Association Community Center before and after the film "Dark Mirror", starring Olivia de Haviland. The Lorenzo Theatre was the first in Northern California with fluorescent painted murals and black lights. This was twenty years before the Fillmore in San Francisco made this popular and you probably won't find them anywhere else today.

Opening Night - The Lorenzo Theatre

United Artists purchased the land from the Bohannon organization to erect the theatre. Sol Bolnik was the manager for four years until he went to manage the Ritz Theatre in Hayward. Ned Culver and son Gary took over for ten years. The family-and-community oriented theatre held Saturday morning ten cents kiddie matinees, and gave free passes to Wednesday movies during the summer for school safety patrols and held Halloween costume parties in the 1950's During the 1960's, the theatre went through a rough period. There were sixteen managers in a year and a half. The Culvers returned in 1973 to manage again. But with neighboring cinemas and the economy, there was a decline in attendance.

In 1978 the Parmar brothers leased the building from United Artists to show foreign films. When the five year lease expired, the theatre closed! United Artists sold it to realtor Angelo Campana after a group of investors backed a young college student to develop the idle theatre into a dance hall, but because an agreement couldn't be made for parking, the proposal was retracted.

In 1991 Mr. Campana died and his estate tried to find buyers. Potential buyers wanted to make a center for teen, a show room for classic cars, a daycare center and a place to produce and sell beer. But because parking was limited and agreements with the Bohannon organization to rent parking spaces could not be made, no deals were ever developed.

Lorenzo Theatre Today!

Vacant since 1982, the theatre fell into disrepair. Its frequent visitors were pigeons, rats and transients, which left a massive mess. Again, the Parmar brothers returned to purchase the historic art deco facade theatre in 1993. They wanted to convert it into an international food bazaar. But, because they couldn't provide twenty parking spaces to get approval from Alameda County planners, they decided to put up a for sale sign in 1996.

In 1998 Larry Leal, former resident and graduate of Arroyo High School, founded the Lorenzo Theater Association after taking pictures of the interior, contacting many people and forming a committee. They are forming a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of the Lorenzo Theatre, and to provide to San Lorenzo and all surrounding communities a safe and family-oriented facility for cinematic entertainment and pursuit of the arts.

On February 3, 1999 more than 100 residents attended a meeting to discuss ways to raise funds to purchase the Lorenzo. They heard the goals of the Lorenzo Theater Association and discussed the importance of buying and restoring the theatre.

Unlike the Village, the theatre had remained a historical structure. It can become a beacon to a new and revitalized San Lorenzo Village Square with community involvement.

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