Tower Theatre for the Performing Arts · 815 E. Olive Ave. Fresno, CA · (559) 485-9050
Opened in 1939 as a 20th Century Fox Movie House, the Tower Theatre today is completely restored as a center for the performing arts. Considered to be the finest facility of its kind in California, the Tower Theatre boasts an authentic art deco theme throughout the interior and exterior.
The dramatic architectural theatre features etched green glass backlit panels in the lobby, and sculptured aluminum fittings throughout its art deco presence. This building is completely restored and is the only 1930's suburban theater existing designed by Los Angeles architect S. Charles Lee (1899-1990).
The entire theatre is a 1940's style moderne deco masterpiece. The covered foyer of Italian Terrazo, as well as the adjoining lobby with its beautiful historic Carvarts glass etching, serve as a mingling area for patrons between acts.
The beautiful bas-relief etched glass panel created by Carvarts of Los Angeles is at the center of the entrance lobby. The etching is a magnificent representation entitled 'The Huntsman' a nearly identical duplicate of the 1927 glass sculpture by Gaetano Cecere (1894-1985).
Above the Tower Theater's Box Office and exterior Lobby, an 80- foot fluted prominence rises dramatically over the businesses and residential of the Tower District. At night, the neon lighted tower is crowned by a radiant multi-colored globe. The light show is reminiscent of 1939 New York World's Fair exhibits.
Capable of seating 761 movie goers at one setting, each side has three recessed areas displaying circular murals that are positioned above decorative aluminum sculptured sconces. The murals are stylized 'Leda and Swan' and 'Vine' motifs, hand painted with fluorescent pigments.
The Tower Theatre is noted for being one of several suburban theater designs that S. Charles Lee devised to show film industry executives a new look in commercial movie theaters. It was profiled shortly after its completion in a lavishly illustrated article in Motion Picture Herald.
As Fresno's first suburban cinema, The Tower Theatre became the dominant vertical landmark anchoring a loosely-knit collection of shops that had been developing into a lively shopping area since 1923. The theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Anchored by the theatre, Fresno's Tower District has seen a booming resurgence with many eclectic restaurants and clubs opening within a four mile radius.