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River Theatre

2001 Photo from the Bob Meza collection.
2313 N Chester Ave
Oildale CA 93308

Record #16330  
 Opened: 1939
 Closed: 1968
 Current Use:
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:

Information for this tour was contributed by Paul Linfesty.

The 600 seat River Theatre opened on Thursday, September 14, 1939, with Only Angels Have Wings and Maisie. The theatre was built at a cost of $75,000 by local theatre operators Banducci and Lemucchi.

According to the Bakersfield Californian, "much attention was given the accoustical details of the building, so that sound distortion would be reduced to a minimum. High fidelity amplifying equipment back of the screen augments the latest developments in picture and sound transmission machines which are housed in a roomy fireproof projection booth.

"While all the seats are on the main floor, powder rooms for the ladies and smoking rooms for the men are on the deeply carpeted second floor, reached from each side of the lobby by wide stairs.

"Interior decoration and lighting effects are particularly striking. The exterior is beautified by a well-lighted marquee and tower, both of which have been given modern handling in wall-finish materials."

The theatre showcased the usual gimmicks in 1953, including showing 3-D films and installing a CinemaScope screen that summer.

The River Theatre, like all second-run theatres in the area, changed double (and sometimes triple) bills more than once a week. By the late fifties, the River was showing two three-day programs a week (Thurs-Sat, Sun-Tue, closed Wed). But starting in January, 1962, the theatre switched to weekend operation only, showing one program Fri-Sat and a second one on Sunday only.

The theatre showed its last attraction on Saturday, September 7, 1968, with a double feature of Hell's Angels on Wheels and Operation C.I.A.

The building was converted to the Buck Owens recording studio and later became home to the Owens-owned TV broadcast station. A new station was built in the 1990s, thus leaving this building abandoned.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

2003 photos from the Paul Linfesty collection.

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July 2001 photos from the Bob Meza collection.

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 Advertisement Images
 Images remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

1939 advertisement from The Bakersfield Californian collection.

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Last featured 1/23/2005. Last edited 10/5/2018.

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