Backwards Glance: The Majestic Theatre



Photos courtesy of the Benicia Historical Museum

The Majestic Theatre at 710 First Street was built in 1920 by William Crooks, a former mayor of Benicia; and was designed by the well-known architect James William Plachek (Berkeley Library and UC Theatre, the CA Superior Court building in Alameda, etc.).  The cinema inauguration was a wildly successful community event and social occasion, only able to accommodate half of the eager crowd that showed up that evening to see the movie “A Daughter of Two Worlds” starring Norma Tallmadge, who sent a congratulatory telegram with her good wishes for a successful opening. The red brick exterior, with extensive marble trim and ticket kiosk, provided an elegant introduction to the interior featuring a presidium arch, comfortable leather seats, a dressing room and an organ which, at the time, provided the only auditory accompaniment, talkies not making their appearance until 1932. The theatre was sold in the 1940s, the new owner remodeling both the interior and exterior, incorporating a larger balcony. The structure still stands today but is no longer operative as a cinema although still event-worthy!