Edit ModuleShow Tags

Inside the Icon: Spreckels Theatre

There’s more to this local marvel than a famous marquee


Published:

Spreckels Theatre

PLEASE TAKE YOUR SEATS
Commissioned by sugar magnate John D. Spreckels to commemorate the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the theatre was originally built with 1,915 seats. Over the years, worn seats were replaced and upgraded. Today, it has 1,463 seats.

A 360˚EXPERIENCE
The theatre’s unique design allowed for a staging of the famed horse-drawn chariot race in a 1923 performance of Ben Hur, with horses galloping through the theatre, onto the stage, and out onto First and Second avenues.

QUAKE-PROOF
Architect Harrison Albright began construction in 1910, two years after the great San Francisco earthquake. More than a century later, the theatre still retains a top-tier earthquake rating.

BOUGHT AND PAID FOR
The theatre opened on August 23, 1912, with a performance of the long-running New York show Bought and Paid For. It came via private train for one show only, at John Spreckels’ expense. The audience gave an extended ovation with five curtain calls.

STAGE TO SCREEN
From theatrical productions and Vaudeville, the venue made the leap to motion pictures in the days of silent film, investing in a projection booth and silver screen in 1923. In 1928, the theatre switched exclusively to movies.

Spreckels Theatre

MARQUEE MOMENT
For its 2012 Centennial Celebration, the 75-year-old marquee was turned off for three months while it underwent a historically accurate restoration.

BUILT TO LAST
The structure, which cost an unprecedented $1 million to construct, remains mostly intact today, with its original onyx Grand Lobby, detailed woodwork, and tiled floors.

NEW MANAGEMENT
Owner Jacquelyn Littlefield, daughter of movie pioneer and one-time Spreckels manager Louis B. Metzger, took over operation of the theatre in 1944 at age 22.

GRAND GESTURE
In 1962, Littlefield bought the theatre from the Star and Crescent Investment Company and returned it to a stage-production venue. In 1978, when arson destroyed the Old Globe Theatre, she donated the use of the Spreckels for the Globe’s season.

FAMOUS ACTS
The Spreckels Theatre has hosted perhaps the widest variety of acts in the region, ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Abbott and Costello, Ronald Reagan to Ray Charles, and Ellen DeGeneres to Eddie Vedder.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The Best of North County 2015

Our annual homage to the newest restaurants, shops, and activities keeping the region above I-56 the cool place it is—haute strip malls, million-dollar tract homes, and all!

Vintage San Diego: Heavy Metal

October 8, 1942

Best Neighborhoods in San Diego

Our annual neighborhood guide explores where to settle if you're a foodie, outdoors-lover, just starting out, or urban-obsessed
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. 27 Reasons to Love San Diego
    Our annual list of all things San Diego and rad—from kiteboarding to urban farming to a city-wide book club
  2. I Tried It: The New Jazzercise
    When I hear the word “Jazzercise,” neon leotards, leg warmers, headbands, and old ladies come to mind
  3. Get Fit & Have Fun in San Diego
    From doggie bootcamps to intense bodybuilding programs, it’s an exciting time to get in shape. What are you waiting for?
  4. R.I.P.: Mike "Bossman" Hardin
    The San Diego restaurant scene lost a legend last week when Mike “Bossman” Hardin of Hodad’s passed away
  5. Food Self-Righteousness Is For Assholes
    Gawker calls foie gras eaters lots of bad names. A response.
  6. FIRST LOOK: Oceana Coastal Kitchen
    Catamaran Resort unveils its new $2.1 million restaurant
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

La Jolla Music Society Events

The La Jolla Music Society's 2015 Calendar
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

'Tis The Season

Winter in the desert cities

100 Works of Art to See Before You Die in San Diego

Local art critics, museum directors, and the big kahunas of the art world picked their must-see paintings, sculptures, and buildings with a special checklist just for you
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags