Castro Theater renovations aim to preserve historic space and breathe new life into movie palace

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Changes are coming to San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater.

The company that runs the venue said renovations were needed to keep the theater running and the theater will look the same even after the renovations.

He said there is a lot of work to be done as he pivots to a multi-purpose venue.

An organ that rises below the stage will remain a staple according to Another Planet Entertainment, the company that took over management of the theater in January from the family that owns the theater and built it in 1922.

“As long as movies are part of the plan, I’m all for it. I think it will be a new dawn for this theater,” said organist David Hegarty, who has performed here for 44 years. He led the effort to build a new, larger organ that will debut when renovations are complete.

“We will be tiering four levels of the auditorium to accommodate standing room for the concerts. Some concerts will be standing. Some will be seated. The movie, of course, of course will be seated,” said Mary Conde, Senior Vice President of another planet.

These seats will be replaced by removable seats.

Balcony seats will be fixed, but will likely be replaced with new ones.

The concession stand in the lobby will be removed and replaced with a mobile stand that will go into the main auditorium.

The beautiful accents including the murals, the ceiling and the chandelier will remain.

“We’re all going to bring it to life. We’re going to clean it up. We’re going to restore it, preserve it,” Conde said.

“Audiences haven’t seen this in 70 years,” Castro Theater spokesman David Perry said, pointing to the stage setting that was hidden behind the film screen.

It will be restored so that the public can enjoy it when the stage is used for live performances.

The preservation of this historic site extends to areas not seen by the public such as the basement.

“People who came here for special events carved their names here,” Perry said, pointing to the basement walls.

Opposition to the renovation project and plans to host live concerts and other events aren’t the only challenge Another Planet has faced.

MORE: San Francisco moviegoers urge new Castro Theater owners to reconsider venue’s future

There was a burglary at the theater on Tuesday morning.

Police officers on foot patrol noticed a missing no trespassing sign and shattered glass from a broken front door.

They said they found three suspects inside.

Condé said that since Another Planet took over two months ago, the box office window has been smashed three times, including this burglary.

“It’s not a frustration. Another Planet is moving forward setting the stage for another generation of live entertainment and audiences, people who love movies,” Perry said.

Police have arrested three suspects in the break-in.

The Castro Theater is gearing up for big upcoming events including the San Francisco Film Festival, Frameline, the LGBTQ Film Festival, and the theater’s 100th anniversary in June.

If all goes as planned, the theater will close for renovations in the first quarter of next year and reopen in the fall.

Amber Lee is a reporter at KTVU. Email Amber at [email protected] or text/leave a message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU

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