It was magnificent. It was situated at the end of a street. When you approached the theater at night, spotlights shined on a facade that appeared to be sculpted from sandstone. It was in fact concrete artfully designed to appear like sandstone. Arches soared, suggesting a much more exotic location than suburban Sacrament; Spain perhaps, or somewhere in North Africa.
The lobby was appropriately lush, especially since its main purpose was to sell quantities of popcorn and candy. It almost felt unethical to take a soft drink into the theater. One didn’t want to spill anything in the beautiful interior.
Heavy red velvet curtains covered the screen. Maybe they weren’t actual velvet, but they passed. In addition to the plush seats on the floor of the theater, two-seat balconies , which contained actual seats, lined the sides of the theater. The sound system was state-of-the-art for the time.
It was the ultimate destination for date night, and every Saturday evening it was filled with couples of all ages. It was the place to go in Sacramento, the Alhambra Theatre. (One has to spell it in the British manner. It fits the style!)
All of this changed suddenly. One afternoon we drove by the theater and noticed a sign announcing the sale of the property. They’re selling the theater to new owners, we thought. We were wrong. Soon after the posting of the sign, the theater was torn down, and a new building, far less imposing and interesting architecturally, appeared.
It was a Safeway grocery store. Not beautiful, not imposing in size, and surrounded by a large parking lot, I disliked it immediately. I vowed to avoid shopping at that store, no matter what.
We moved away from the city, but returned several years later. The Safeway store still stands. I still don’t shop at that particular Safeway. Since we moved back to Sacramento, at least two other of our favorite theaters have closed and been taken down. The land is more profitably used for other corporate ventures.
I was sad to see the Alhambra go, but railing against one corporate interest in favor of another corporate interest seems counter productive. After all, it is corporation vs corporation.