The site that the Crest Theatre sits on has housed a theatre since 1912. The first, the Empress, was a vaudeville theatre which opened in 1913. The second, The Hippodrome, originally a vaudeville house, was converted into a motion picture theatre in the late 1920′s.
In 1946, the Hippodrome interior was demolished and the Crest was built inside the building’s original shell. The first film shown, an MGM film titled “That Midnight Kiss,” premiered on Thursday, October 6, 1949, on the opening night of the newly rebuilt Crest Theatre. Many hollywood stars attended the Grand Opening and movie premiere, including the film’s leading actors, Kathryn Grayson and Mario Lanza. Noted government officials also attended the opening, including Governor Earl Warren (later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), and the Honorable Belle Coolidge, the first woman mayor of Sacramento. The theatre showcased films for another thirty years, until late 1979, when a variety of factors including the decline of the K Street mall, the advent of television and the multiplex forced the Crest Theatre to close its doors.
In 1986, the theatre was re-opened by a group of local Sacramentans with the vision of preserving the Crest Theatre for all of Sacramento to enjoy once again. The ‘Grand Re-Opening’ took place on November 18, 1986 with another MGM film, this time featuring the famed musical “Singin’ in the Rain,” starring Donald O’Connor, who actually traveled to Sacramento to attend the event in person. Mr. O’Connor was given the honor of christening the reopened theatre and, with a smile and a pair of scissors, snipped the celluloid ribbon across the front doors. The Crest was open for business once again!
In 1995, the Crest received a one million dollar restoration grant to bring Sacramento’s last great picture palace back to it’s glittery 1940′s appearance. Today, The Crest boasts one of Sacramento’s most elegant settings, restored to its original art deco style and featuring a fabulously lavish gold leaf interior.
Since then, the Crest has served as host to many different types of shows and events. It continues to feature an eclectic cinematic program that showcases both classic and recent films, concerts such as Cab Calloway, B.B. King, and Dave Brubeck, and a variety of comedy shows such as Bernie Mac, Carrot Top, Sam Kinison and The Mommies. Community events include the popular Sacramento Symphony “Jeans and Beer” and “Mocha and Mozart” series. In addition, the Crest is available for private functions such as political fundraisers, receptions, movie screenings, conferences, employee orientations, and weddings.
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