The Merced Theatre opened on October 31st , 1931 with the world premier of Local Boy Makes Good staring Joe E. Brown. The building was constructed over the previous nine months at a cost of $380,000.00. For the next 47 years it would serve the Merced community in a wide variety of ways including concerts, graduations, dance performances, weddings and of course, movies. It was and still is treasured by the people of Merced County. The Tower is the most recognized landmark in Merced.
The Theatre was designed by the Reid Brothers , prestigious architects from San Francisco for the Golden State Theatre Corporation, and boasted 1,645 seats with the first air conditioning for any building in the County. The City of Merced had a population of only 7,066 at the time. We believe the Theatre is the last project completed by the Reid Brothers as one of them died 3 months after the opening. The Theatre building includes five retail spaces and ten second-floor apartments on the Main Street frontage.
What made the Theatre so special was the Theatre's interior. Sitting in the Theatre was like being in a Spanish castle courtyard with blue skies and even a cloud machine.
In 2002 the City of Merced Redevelopment Agency purchased the Theatre Building. Since that time the Merced Theatre Foundation has leased the Theatre from the City and is responsible for day to day operations. Theatre two remained operational for several years and the Foundation held monthly movies and other events by arrangement.
Funding for this Project has been provided in part by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment.