The Lorenzo has been SAVED!

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The local old theater that has been vacant since the 80’s has been saved! It was owned by a gentleman that was selling it for $1M although I doubt that it was purchased for that price during this recession. Anyhow, I went to view their website http://www.savethelorenzo.org the other night and noticed that it was as if it was taken off of the internet. I was worried. I haven’t heard anything about the theater and or its organization for a while now so I thought that maybe they had stopped the support due to the recession or the (as it seemed) impossible deal makings with the owner to purchase it.

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I thought the worst, that I would be seeing the demise and most likely the deconstruction of the beautiful building. I emailed the Hayward Historical Society because I was not sure who else to contact to check the status of the building. They had forwarded my email to the San Lorenzo Historian of which contacted me and had this to say:

“Hi,
I received your email from the Hayward Area Historical Society.  The website is www.savethelorenzo.com
Alameda County Redevelopment purchased the theater.  It has been saved!  The San Lorenzo Village Redevelopment Citizens Advisory Committee allocated money to repair the roof , marquee and entrance. Now the Foundation can work with the County.”

So the theater has been saved! Although they have owned it for a couple of months already. It is the first that I have heard of it and also the first announcement that I have seen online. Hopefully soon we will be able view old films and relive the days of old and watch films like Casa Blanca, The Blob, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

If you have not had the chance to see my article on the historical theater you can view it here: The Lorenzo

Here is a small piece of the article with some photos. If you like what you see I urge you to view and read the rest of the article.

Where were you April 5, 1947? My self, I may have been alive in my past life, taking advantage of all that 1947 had to offer. But during that time my dad wasn’t even alive. In 1947 in a little town called San Lorenzo a momentous event was taking place, as the Lorenzo Theater opened for business. The 700-seat, $465,000 theater 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 Theater 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.

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 had been.

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.

Vacant since 1982, the theatre fell into disrepair. It’s 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.

It KILLS me to just see it sitting there. If I hit the millions in the Lotto it will be the first thing to purchase. It literally tears me up inside to see a part of history slowly dying over money. It is so sad. The theater may be in an architectural coma at the moment but I feel it alive in me every time I walk by it or drive by it. Please if you have a local house, building, theater, park, etc that has historical value PLEASE look into donating what you can to help save it! If you would like to donate to help save this wonderful theater please go to www.savethelorenzo.org

Here are some photos of the theater past and present:

I am so happy that the theater was saved. This is one thing that I have wanted to save personally. I vowed that if I ever won the lottery I would buy the theater and restore it to it’s former glory. I am just happy that someone beat me to the punch. I can’t wait to visit the theater once it is open. You can count on it that I will be there on opening day.

Thanks for reading,

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Published in: on September 29, 2010 at 10:59 PM  Leave a Comment  
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