(Last UPDATED 6/15/2020) Description and review of the historic Crest Theatre, a Sacramento landmark located on the K Street Mall that originally opened in 1912 as the Empress Theatre.NEW: Help Save the Crest Theatre Fundraiser (see UPDATE below).
A friend and I recently attended the last film screened at the Sacramento Japanese Film Festival. Afterwards, it occurred to me that I had yet to write a blog post about the Crest Theatre – which is unquestionably a Sacramento landmark! I decided it was time to remedy the situation. The theatre is a real gem with its beautiful neon marquee, old style ticket booth, and ornate art deco interior.
The Crest Theatre originally opened in 1912 as the Empress Theatre, a vaudeville palace. Later it operated as the Hippodrome Theatre. In mid-September 1946, the Hippodrome Theatre marquee fell to the pavement below, killing a pedestrian. After the accident the Hippodrome Theatre closed.
In 1949, the building was remodeled in the art deco style and renamed the Crest Theatre. In the 1950s and 1960s the theatre was a popular venue screening first-run movies. Then, in the 1970s it fell on hard times, as did other movie palaces in Sacramento. The Crest Theatre eventually closed in the early 1980s.
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The Crest Theatre Today
The Crest Theatre reopened in 1986. After suffering smoke damage in a 1993 fire, the fire insurance settlement and redevelopment monies provided by the City of Sacramento were applied to the restoration of the theatre. The restoration included refurbishment of the neon marquee.
During the restoration, two basement screening rooms were added and remained in use until 2013. More recently, the unused space was converted into a popular restaurant – the Empress Tavern. The theatre thus returned to its original state – a classic old-time one screen theatre.
See related blog post: Empress Tavern – Sacramento Restaurants
Other more recent improvements to the theatre were upgraded sound and lighting systems, the installation of DCP compliant digital movie projection, and replacement of the HVAC system.
The Crest Theatre today is a popular venue for diverse forms of entertainment. It has a good-sized stage and is a great venue for concerts, plays, etc. Patrons enjoy the beauty of the refurbished ornate art deco interior as well as the comfortable tiered seating. There literally is not a bad seat in the house.
I personally would describe the Crest Theater as an “intimate” venue. The theatre website states that there is a maximum seating capacity of 975. I have to admit that I am surprised by such a large capacity number – but I have to take them at their word.
The theatre, with its good-sized lobby, is also a popular venue for several annual film festivals. It hosts, for example, the popular Sacramento French Film Festival, Sacramento Jewish Film Festival and the Sacramento Japanese Film Festival that I recently attended.
Located on K Street, the Crest Theatre is near both the Sacramento Convention Center and the State Capitol Building. There are numerous upscale restaurants and bars in the immediate area, making dinner beforehand or a drink after an event a convenient option. There is, of course, also a concession stand inside the theatre. While I have not patronized the concession stand to date, I have been told that it is more than adequate – in fact I have been told that it is quite good. Can you add a comment about the concession stand?
Crest Theatre Parking
Parking can be a challenge in Downtown Sacramento, but there are two nearby city parking garages. The Capitol Garage is located close by at 10th and L Streets. Another option, just a bit further away, is the City Hall Garage located at 10th & H Streets.
The Capitol Garage is 0.1 miles from the Crest Theatre and the City Hall Garage is 0.2 miles away according to SacPark. If you reserve a parking spot in advance through SacPark you are guaranteed a parking spot! I use SacPark all the time, as I like knowing that there will be no hassle parking.
(6/15/2020) The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the arts in Sacramento – including the historic Crest Theatre.
Starting June 19, 2020 the Crest will reopen and begin showing classic movies. Seating will naturally be limited.
To help the Crest Theatre survive during these uncertain times, Robert Alvis has launched a fundraiser and is requesting a donation of $1 to support the arts at the Crest. You can make your donation here.
Help get the word out to your friends! I would hate to see this historic theatre close as so many others around the country have.
Crest Theatre Snapshot (as of 8/8/18)
- 1013 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
- (916) 476-3356
Comments on the Crest Theatre?
What would you add to my description? What are your favorite or least favorite things about the theatre?
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