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El Rey Theater History

  • El Rey Theater

    El Rey Theater
    The El Rey Theater was completed being built in 1931. The layout was made by famous San Franisco architect Timothy Pflueger who helped design many skyscrapers and theaters throughout San Francisco. The Building cost $500,000 featuring 1,800 seats and a area of 35,196 square feet.
  • Opening Night

    Opening Night
    El Rey Theater officially opened on the date that was planned, November 14, 1931. On opening night the agenda included a screening of the Smiling Lieutenant and many other short feature films. At the time it was San Francisco’s largest neighborhood theater and was the first major movie theater constructed in it’s area.
  • Bought by New Company

    Bought by New Company
    San Francsico Theatres, Inc owned the El Rey Theater for seven years, on December 29, 1938 it was sold to El Rey enterprises. El Rey enterprises was a real estate holding company ran by a man named J. R. Saul. The company hired many people for the position of theater manager, who would run it. The managment of the theater let business’s, fraternal organizations, and clubs for meetings. It was also occasionally used for talent shows, fashion shows, and live music performances.
  • Changes

    El Rey Enterprises only made change in it’s technology, such as a new sound system and cinemascope projection. They made little change due to it being the only major theater in the area, with its small competition on West Portal and Outer Mission distrcict.
  • Competition

    In 1971 change and competition came through with the opening of United Artists’ Stonestown Cinema. The opening of the theater and Stonestown shopping center right next to it, caused the downfall of the El Rey theater and Its Ocean Avenue business’s. Due to the opening of the new theater and Stonestown shopping center next to it, caused a tragic affect on the El Rey Theater and business’s along Ocean Avenue.
  • Downfall and Closing

    Downfall and Closing
    In 1976 the theater closed down for a few months, and reopened for a short time in the later half of 1976, but instead ran by United Artists, the owners of the Stonestown Cinema. The last films shown at the theater, in early 1977 was when a prostitutes orginization hosted a Hookers Film Festival, which lasted from March 28 to March 31. The theater sadly closed on September 14, 1977, bought by the Voice of Pentecost, which was a Protestant church.
  • New Owners

    New Owners
    The newly bought theater was used by the founder of Voice of Pentecost, Marilynn Gazowsky, to bring the Pentecostal faith to hippies and other people. After it was bought, the El Rey Theater was used for church school, Sunday school, administrative offices, printing office’s, and its high point of 1,000 members of the faith. In 1988 Marilynn Gazowsky gave the Church to her son, Richard Gazowsky, who now operates Voice of Pentecost.
  • New Use

    New Use
    The new owner changed the name to “ A Place to Meet Jesus”. Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, Richard Gazowsky mortgaged the former El Rey Theater to make improvements to the building, and because he was attempting to create a science fiction film. The creation of the film bankrupted the church, which caused a lawsuit by the San Francisco City Attorney to take back 425,000 in unpaid rent.
  • Sold

    Due to the Lawsuit from Richard Gazowsky not paying rent, the former El Rey Theater was sold a public auction on November 25, 2015. It was sold to Ricci Ventures, LLC and Greenpoint Land Ventures Co, for a whopping $1,060,000, which was two times the amount it costed when it was built. Even though it sold, Voice of Pentecost still occupies the building.
  • Renovation Plans

    Renovation Plans
    The companies who bought the building at auction in 2015 have submitted plans in 2019 to renovate the theater. They plan to add condo units and renovate the whole building. Their plan is to make a total of 42 condo units, 28 one bedrooms, 12 two bedrooms, two three bedrooms, and a basement garage for 32 cars. It will be designed to keep the former El Rey Theater intact and comptaible with their renovation. The plans are yet to be given an ok to do by the planning department.