The Village Theater

Coronado, California


The Village is a small community theater on Coronado Island, near San Diego. It sits on the main thoroughfare in town, in the shadow of the famous red-roofed Coronado Hotel. It opened to much fanfare in the small town on March 18, 1947. People lined up for blocks to see Irish Eyes Are Smiling in Technicolor.

The 9,000-square-foot Village Theatre was the unofficial gathering place for the community. It became a big part of life in the small town for decades.

The one-screen theater with its Art Deco interior was a roaring success from the very first night, despite the builder’s concerns that there were too few materials available because of the war.

By the year 2000, the theater had fallen into great disrepair with disinterested owners and the doors were suddenly shut. The owners simply walked away. Slowly, the yellow and blue paint faded out entirely. The once magnificent sidewalk terrazzo became cracked and faded. The Village Theatre became a blighted building on Coronado’s main street.

After years of abandonment, Vintage Cinemas (out of Los Angeles) worked out a deal between the theater owners and Coronado City Council, who funded the $2.7 million restoration with the stipulation that the 1947 façade would be renovated. The interior was so bad they had to start from scratch.

The theater retained its old-time feel thanks to notable theater designer Joseph Musil, best known for restoring the 1926 El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. However, Musil died, leaving the designs for the Village Theatre’s interior almost complete. Designers Brian White and Ronald Wright followed through on his vision. The results are stunning!

On June 25, 2011, ten years and $3 million later, The Village theater reopened.

The terrazzo, which was once endangered but through community outcry was saved, has been repaired and restored. The one room theater is now a three screen. Two smaller rooms named the Balboa Room and the Exposition Room each seat 38. On the walls are hand-painted murals by Disney muralist Bill Anderson. They depict the stunning architecture of both the Exposition of 1915 and of Balboa Park today.

The main screening room once sat 600. Today there are 215 comfortable reclining chairs. The walls boast two enormous murals depicting the skyline of Coronado, the Bridge, Hotel del Coronado, and the Boathouse on one side, the other shows the San Diego skyline with the Ferry Landing, ferryboat, and cityscape; overhead is a smattering of twinkling stars. The curtains part and drop elegantly before and after each film harkening to the glory days of the great movie houses.


The Village Theater

820 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
(619) 437-6161


Opening night at the Lou Bard Playhouse, 1923

Opening night at The Village Theatre, March 18th, 1947

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