Prompt 15: Your Voice Will Find You: The Fall of the Alhambra

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.

8 thoughts on “Prompt 15: Your Voice Will Find You: The Fall of the Alhambra

  1. Sad to see artistic beauty give way to practical functionality, isn’t it? Functionality? Is that a word? Not sure, but I guess if it is not, it shows my practicality!


  2. When I was growing up, we had two movie theaters on ‘The Avenue.’ One was an RKO, but not particularly interesting. Across the street stood the Valencia Theater! It was large, and regal, with velvet seats, as you described, and box seats on either side, above the loge. I spent many Friday nights there with my mother and her friend along with her son, and my brother, watching double features. It was still there when I turned 18 and graduated from high school, where the ceremony was held. There was something special about walking across the stage, with the immense movie screen as backdrop. As the years passed, it was acquired by a church, and they held their services there.

    Just recently I was on Google Earth, visiting the old neighborhood, and I looked to see if the theaters were still standing. I did not see them. Perhaps, they were torn down along with the overhead train, The EL. But I will always remember, with fondness that theater. There’s never been one like it that I’ve seen since the 70s.

    I enjoyed hearing about your Alhambra! They live on in memory, and now in blogs!


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