June 29, 2009
Union Street’s Metro Theater: Saving Its Skin In Order To Un-Shutter
In a deal with preservationists, the re-developer of the Metro Theater on Union Street is expected to to restore the theater’s exterior "to reflect its "vintage heyday"" and sign "a letter of intent…to preserve interior features like the elaborate murals and columns" while transforming the long shuttered theater into a mix of retail and an Equinox gym.
First Published: June 29, 2009 12:00 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Long shuttered? It's barely been closed two years. This will be Alhambra Crunch 2. Sad that they couldn't preserve some sort of movie presence at the site. Without the movies, I'd rather see it redeveloped as it's not much beyond a big white box.
Posted by: mjp at June 29, 2009 2:30 PM
Alhambra crunch always plays movies for you to watch while working out.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at June 29, 2009 3:19 PM
95% of the historic and aesthetic appeal that comes from theaters of this vintage are derived from these three exterior features :
- vertical sign
- box office
Though the internal details (ceiling, sconces, etc.) might also have significance, they are not nearly as part of the urban memory as the street facing features, maybe because the lights are turned off during screenings. Also the structure itself is usually nothing more than a big open box constructed with the cheapest methods.
Hopefully the sign and marquee will be salvaged in the reuse of this building. But lets not forget the box office. These little glass walled booths are often tiny architectural gems.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 29, 2009 3:25 PM
Where does this all end? San Francisco is a very young city, and yet you would think it was Florence or Prague. So should we preserve newspaper structures because at one time newspapers were printed there? Perhaps a structure that had an ice cream store at one time, but now is a laundramat? There is nothing interesting, well crafted, or unique about this structure, it is only being saved because some older residents want to preserve their memories of visiting the theater in their youth? Now I could understand if they had wanted to save the Fox Plaza
but I am not sure even that structure would be saved in cities of great architecture such as London, Paris or even Chicago. Chicago has the tallest building in America, and nobody is raising an eyebrow now that the new owners want to reclad the structure and change the color to help make the building "green". Shouldn't they want to preserve the dark black-bronze 70's style glass and steel? (No!)
Forgive my rant, but again and again buildings are being "saved" only because they are over 50 years old, not because they are of any great historical merit or architectural distinction. San Francisco has a LONG way to go before it is ready to be put under glass. What we have that is worth saving are places and vistas such as the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate, and parts of the Presidio, these spaces are unique and something that people travel from around the world to experience.
Posted by: anonfedup at June 29, 2009 3:55 PM
I'm glad that Oakland was such a backwater for so long so that the Paramount, Oakland Fox and Grand Lake are are still around and going stronger than ever instead of turned into another gym or drugstore. It seems San Francisco is hell bent on making the Castro the only neighborhood theater left in the City. I have no idea why a place like the Metro closes. Do people really like fighting for parking at the Cadillac theater on Van Ness, or the bland theater at San Francisco "Centre" or heaven forbid, the Metreon, all with their roving packs of teenagers. Don't people WALK to a neighborhood theater in SF anymore? May the SF Fox rest in peace.
Posted by: PRE at June 29, 2009 5:16 PM
PRE - no, people prefer those other theaters because they show a ton of movies at different times, and the seats, sound, and picture are far superior. Neighborhood theaters are fine, but what happens when the movie you want to see isn't playing there (as is likely the case most of the time)? You try out one of the big theaters and figure out that the product there is much better. The small theaters need to offer something different (beer, tables, etc are good places to start).
Posted by: anon at June 29, 2009 5:56 PM